High potassium diet augments endothelium-dependent relaxations in the Dahl rat

L. Raij, T. F. Luscher, P. M. Vanhoutte

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84 Scopus citations


Endothelium-dependent relaxations are reduced in hypertensive rats. High dietary potassium supplementation reduce the incidence of strokes in Dahl rats indepedently of blood pressure, thereby suggesting a direct protective effect of the diet. Endothelium-dependent relaxations and aortic vascular architecture were studied in Dahl salt-sensitive rats fed 8% NaCl, 0.1% NaCl, or 8% NaCl plus 3.6% potassium citrate for 8 weeks. Rats fed 8% NaCl or 8% NaCl plus 3.6% potassium citrate became hypertensive, while those fed 0.1% NaCl did not. Aortic rings with and without endothelium were suspended in organ chambers filled with physiological salt solution (37°C) and aerated with 95% O2, 5% CO2. In rings contracted with norepinephrine, acetylcholine and adenosine 5'-diphosphate caused endothelium-dependent relaxations that were significantly reduced in rats fed 8% NaCl as compared with those fed 0.1% NaCl. Potassium supplementation (8% NaCl/3.6% potassium citrate) significantly enhanced relaxations to acetylcholine in salt-sensitive rats, while those to adenosine 5'-diphosphate and thrombin were either minimally affected or unchanged. Relaxations to sodium nitroprusside were similar in rats with or without potassium supplementation. Hypertension significantly increased aortic medial and intimal thickness. Dietary potassium had no significant effect on the vascular architecture. These results suggest that high potassium diet enhances endothelium-dependent relaxations in Dahl rats at least in part independently of change in blood pressure. Thus, potassium may be important for its protective effect against stroke and renal damage in this animal model of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)562-567
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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