- Gene HSD11B2 is associated with increased salt intake
- Study performed
on mice without the gene
- The study mice found to consume three times more
salt water when compared to ordinary mice
development could target the gene for controlling salt
New research has
found an association between the gene HSD11B2
and salt intake which holds promise for controlling the consumption of salt
Salt is one of the essential ingredients in our food and while its intake
is necessary for good health, too much salt could prove to be detrimental.
‘High salt intake, which could be due to gene regulation, leads to hypertension and associated disorders. Following a low salt diet aids in maintaining good health.’
Facts About Salt in Our Body
Functions of Sodium
- Warm blooded animals require salt for their existence.
- The cerebrospinal fluid is essentially a sac of salt water which
circulates throughout the spinal cord as well as the brain.
- Amniotic fluid
too contains salt.
- Salt is lost from our body when we sweat as well as
when we shed tears.
- Our bones contain 27% of the salt in our body.
- Aids in muscle contraction and relaxation
- Nerve impulse transmission
- Maintenance of fluid balance in the
Kidneys play a key role in maintaining the level of sodium in the body. If there is a low amount of
sodium in the blood, then
the kidneys do not excrete them, instead they hold onto the sodium. When sodium
is present in excess, then the kidneys eliminate sodium, however, the kidneys
cannot eliminate a lot of sodium. This leads to a build up of sodium which is
harmful to health.
Sodium has the capacity of holding onto water which leads to an increase
in blood volume. This leads to added pressure on the heart to pump more volume
of blood, which can lead to hypertension
Conditions Caused Due to High Salt Intake
Optimum Salt Intake Levels
- Congestive heart failure
- Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
- Chronic kidney
People at Risk of Health Problems Due to High Salt Intake
- Normal individual - 2300mg of salt per day
- Individuals older than 51 years of age - 1500mg per
- People over 50 years of
- People with diabetes or with elevated blood pressure
- Certain ethnic
groups like African Americans
Indians consume alarmingly high levels of salt, drastically increasing
the risk for hypertension, according to a study by Demla S and Verma K titled "
Salt Intake In India - An Alarming Situation" Published
in the Journal International Journal of Food, Agriculture and Veterinary
of Salt in Various Parts of India
- Rural Andhra Pradesh - 42.3g/day
- Delhi - 9g/day
- Chennai -
The latest study
by Dr M Bailey and colleagues which identifies a gene associated with the high salt
intake is a promising find, especially for cultures that include a lot of salt
in their diet.
The gene for salt intake was first identified
by M Bailey and colleagues in a study titled " Hsd11b2 haplo insufficiency in mice causes salt sensitivity of blood
pressure" and published in the Journal Hypertension.
(2011 March). In
this study, mice which were heterozygous for the gene Hsd11b2 (+/-) i.e. one gene was active while the
other was a null mutation. The lowered efficiency of the gene was found to have
the following effect on the mice.
- Promoted retention of
- Wasting of potassium
This study opened doorways for
further research into this gene published in the Journal Circulation
March 2016 titled " Conditional Deletion of Hsd11b2 in the Brain Causes Salt
Appetite and Hypertension."
11βHSD2 Brain specific knockout mice were used in the study
and it was found that they consumed three times more salt water than normal
mice, but their sodium renal excretion
was not affected. The study highlights the following:
- Change from salt
resistance to salt sensitivity
- Increased intake of salt
- No direct relation of the gene with hypertension
- An antagonist
that blocks the effect of the gene in the brain of an individual could
potentially prevent the need for high salt intake, aiding in control of
This study is highly significant in
a country like India which thrives on a high salt
. People especially
from the rural areas, are unable to control
the salt in the diet
, which could
have a genetic basis. Further studies that focus on developing an antagonist
that blocks the effect of the gene on salt intake could save people from
hypertension and medical costs incurred due to that.