It’s known but scientists at McGill University have found for the first time how excessive salt intake “reprograms” the brain, interfering with a natural safety mechanism that prevents the body’s arterial blood pressure from rising.
By studying the effect of excessive salt on brains of rats, a team led by professor Charles Bourque of McGill’s faculty of medicine discovered that ingesting large amounts of dietary salt causes changes in some brain circuits, triggering high blood pressure.
“We found that a period of high dietary salt intake in rats caused a biochemical change in the neurons that released vasopressin (VP) into the systemic circulation”, Bourque explained
The change in brain circuit in turn prevents the inhibition of these particular neurons by other cells. Scientists found that high salt intake prevents the inhibition of VP neurons by the body’s arterial pressure detection circuit.
When this natural safety mechanism gets disabled, it allows blood pressure to rise due to a high amount of salt that is ingested over a long period of time.
While the team’s discovery advances the understanding of the link between salt intake and blood pressure, scientists said more work is required to potentially explore the therapeutic intervention or remedy for the issue. Meanwhile, Bourque adivsed: “The message is clear: limit dietary salt.” The paper has been published in the journal Neuron.