Research ArticleNutrition

A high-salt diet compromises antibacterial neutrophil responses through hormonal perturbation

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Science Translational Medicine  25 Mar 2020:
Vol. 12, Issue 536, eaay3850
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aay3850

Salting neutrophils’ game

Sodium chloride (salt) has been shown to invigorate immune responses in various contexts. In contrast, Jobin et al. now show that salt can impair neutrophil antibacterial responses. Mice on a high-salt diet experienced exacerbated E. coli kidney or systemic Listeria monocytogenes infections due to reduced capacity of neutrophils to kill ingested bacteria. The neutrophil deficiencies were not due directly to salt or urea but instead were dependent on salt-induced hyperglucocorticoidism. In addition, neutrophils from healthy volunteers were less capable of controlling bacteria ex vivo after consumption of a high-salt diet. Given that the typical Western diet is replete with salt, these findings reveal that people might be making themselves more vulnerable to bacterial infections.

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