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Updated in 1/17/2017 5:39:21 PM      Viewed: 745 times      (Journal Article)
Nephrology, dialysis, transplantation : official publication of the European Dialysis and Transplant Association - European Renal Association 29 (2): 240-6 (2014)

Vascular endothelium: a vulnerable transit zone for merciless sodium.

Hans Oberleithner
In humans, when plasma sodium concentration rises slightly beyond 140 mM, vascular endothelium sharply stiffens and nitric oxide release declines. In search of a vascular sodium sensor, the endothelial glycocalyx was identified as being a negatively charged biopolymer capable of selectively buffering sodium ions. Sodium excess damages the glycocalyx and renders vascular endothelium increasingly permeable for sodium. In the long term, sodium accumulates in the interstitium and gradually damages the organism. It was discovered that circulating red blood cells (RBC) 'report' surface properties of the vascular endothelium. To some extent, the RBC glycocalyx mirrors the endothelial glycocalyx. A poor (charge-deprived) endothelial glycocalyx causes a poor RBC glycocalyx and vice versa. This observation led to the assumption that the current state of an individual's vascular endothelium in terms of electrical surface charges and sodium-buffering capabilities could be read simply from a blood sample. Recently, a so-called salt blood test was introduced that quantifies the RBC sodium buffer capacity and thus characterizes the endothelial function. The arguments are outlined in this article spanning a bridge from cellular nano-mechanics to clinical application.
DOI: 10.1093/ndt/gft461      ISSN: 0931-0509