Greater T Regulatory Cells in Females Attenuate DOCA-Salt-Induced Increases in Blood Pressure Versus Males

Kasey M. Belanger, G. Ryan Crislip, Ellen E. Gillis, Mahmoud Abdelbary, Jacqueline B. Musall, Riyaz Mohamed, Babak Baban, Ahmed Elmarakby, Michael W. Brands, Jennifer C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Hypertension is the most common risk factor for cardiovascular disease, causing over 18 million deaths a year. Although the mechanisms controlling blood pressure (BP) in either sex remain largely unknown, T cells play a critical role in the development of hypertension. Further evidence supports a role for the immune system in contributing to sex differences in hypertension. The goal of the current study was to first, determine the impact of sex on the renal T-cell profiles in DOCA-salt hypertensive males and females and second, test the hypothesis that greater numbers of T regulatory cells (Tregs) in females protect against DOCA-salt-induced increases in BP and kidney injury. Male rats displayed greater increases in BP than females following 3 weeks of DOCA-salt treatment, although increases in renal injury were comparable between the sexes. DOCA-salt treatment resulted in an increase in proinflammatory T cells in both sexes; however, females had more anti-inflammatory Tregs than males. Additional male and female DOCA-salt rats were treated with anti-CD25 to decrease Tregs. Decreasing Tregs significantly increased BP only in females, thereby abolishing the sex difference in the BP response to DOCA-salt. This data supports the hypothesis that Tregs protect against the development of hypertension and are particularly important for the control of BP in females.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1615-1623
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease
  • hypertension
  • inflammation
  • kidney

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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