Splenocyte transfer exacerbates salt-sensitive hypertension in rats

Daniel J. Fehrenbach, John Henry Dasinger, Hayley Lund, Jeylan Zemaj, David L. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


New Findings: What is the central question of this study? Recruitment of immune cells to the kidney potentiates hypertensive pathology, but more refined methods are needed to assess these cells functionally. Adoptive transfer studies of immune cells have been limited in rat models and especially in the study of salt-sensitive hypertension. We tested the hypothesis that splenocyte transfer into T-cell-deficient rats is sufficient to exacerbate salt-sensitive hypertension. What is the main finding and its importance? We demonstrate that transfer of splenocytes into T-cell-deficient animals exacerbates salt-sensitive hypertension, and an enrichment in the CD4+ compartment specifically induces this phenomenon. Abstract: Increasing evidence of immune system activation during the progression of hypertension and renal injury has led to a need for new methods to study individual cell types. Transfer of immune cells serves as a powerful tool to isolate effects of specific subsets. Transfer studies in Rag1−/− mice have demonstrated an important role of T-cell activation in hypertension, but this approach has yielded limited success in rat models. Using the T-cell-deficient Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rat, SSCD247−/−, we hypothesized that splenocyte transfer from SS wild-type animals into SSCD247−/− animals would populate the T-cell compartment. The Dahl SS background provides a model for studying salt-sensitive hypertension; therefore, we also tested whether the dietary salt content of the donor would confer differential salt sensitivity in the recipient. To test this, donors were maintained on either a low-salt or a high-salt diet, and at postnatal day 5 the recipients received splenocyte transfer from one of these groups before a high-salt diet challenge. We showed that splenocyte transfer elevated blood pressures while rats were fed low salt and exacerbated the salt-sensitive increase in pressure when they were fed fed high salt. Furthermore, transfer of splenocytes conferred exacerbated renal damage. Lastly, we confirmed the presence of T cells in the circulation and in the spleen, and that infiltration of immune cells, including T cells, macrophages and B cells, into the kidney was elevated in those receiving the transfer. Interestingly, the source of the splenocytes, from donors fed either a low-salt or a high-salt diet, did not significantly affect these salt-sensitive phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-875
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • T cell
  • salt-sensitive hypertension
  • transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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