Over the past decade there has been increasing support for a role of the immune system in the development of hypertension. Our lab has previously reported that female spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) have a blood pressure (BP)-dependent increase in anti-inflammatory renal regulatory T cells (Tregs), corresponding to lower BP compared with males. However, little is known regarding the mechanism for greater renal Tregs in females. The current study was designed to test the hypothesis that the greater relative abundance of renal Tregs in female SHR is due to greater Treg production. To test this hypothesis, T cell profiles were measured in the spleen by flow cytometry in male and female SHR at 5 and 14 weeks of age. Splenic Tregs did not differ between males and females, suggesting sex differences in renal Tregs is not due to differences in production. To assess the role of the spleen in sex differences in renal Tregs and BP control, rats were randomized to receive sham surgery (CON) or splenectomy (SPLNX) at 12 weeks of age and implanted with telemeters to measure BP. After 2 weeks, kidneys were harvested for flow cytometric analysis of T cells. Splenectomy increased BP in both sexes after 2 weeks. Renal Tregs decreased in both sexes after splenectomy, abolishing the sex differences in renal Tregs. In conclusion, splenic Tregs were comparable in male and female SHRs, suggesting that sex differences in renal Tregs is due to differences in renal Treg recruitment, not Treg production.
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