Editors' ChoiceHypertension

Boys Versus Girls: T Lymphocytes in Hypertension

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Science Translational Medicine  25 Jun 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 242, pp. 242ec110
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009599

An overactive immune system contributes to hypertension, a chronic disease of high blood pressure that afflicts one-third of the population in the United States. Recently, researchers have found that a particular immune cell, the T lymphocyte, promotes hypertension—but differently in males and females. To explore how gender-specific hormones might affect T cells’ contribution to hypertension, Pollow et al. compared male and female mice with induced hypertension. They found that T cells were more effective in driving hypertension in males than in females.

Pollow et al. used mice of both sexes that lacked both T and B cells. Before any treatments, male and female mice had the same blood pressure. The authors infused the mice with T lymphocytes and then, 3 weeks later, gave the mice the vascular-constricting hormone angiotensin II so as to induce hypertension. The male mice exhibited a more vigorous systolic blood pressure response than did the female mice (an increase of 37.7 mmHg versus 13.7 mmHg). Males also showed considerably more infiltrating lymphocytes in their kidneys than did the females. This robust lymphocyte infiltration was accompanied by renal expression of tumor necrosis factor–α, monocyte chemotactic protein–1, and interleukin-2, cytokines that are elevated in human hypertension. The investigators concluded that T cells contribute to hypertension significantly more in male than in female mice.

If researchers find a similar contribution of T lymphocytes to hypertension in humans, these immune cells may become an unexpected, druggable target in the ongoing fight against the morbidity and mortality of hypertension.

D. P. Pollow et al., Sex differences in T-lymphocyte tissue infiltration and development of angiotensin II hypertension. Hypertension 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03581 (2014). [Abstract]

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