Salts Can Disrupt T cells By Impairing Energy Metabolism, Study Shows

In Education

Excessive daily salt consumption in many Western societies can negatively affect blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and the immune system. According to a study published in Cell Metabolism, salt can disrupt the energy metabolism of regulatory T cells, which are crucial immune system regulators. This disruption may lead to autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and could be an avenue for investigating disease development.

Excess salts cause mitochondria to malfunction

The research conducted by Professor Dominik Müller and Professor Markus Kleinewietfeld and their colleagues found that the metabolism and energy balance of innate immune cells, such as monocytes and macrophages, can be negatively affected by excessive salt intake, leading to poor function. The study also showed that salt could cause the mitochondria in cells to malfunction. These findings inspired the researchers to examine if high salt consumption could similarly impact adaptive immune cells like regulatory T cells.

Tregs, or Regulatory T cells, play a crucial role in the adaptive immune system by regulating the balance between normal function and excess inflammation. They are popularly known as the “immune police” as they prevent the proliferation of autoreactive immune cells and facilitate controlled immune responses without harming the host organism.

According to studies, Tregs’ dysregulation may be connected to the emergence of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Additionally, recent research has shown that Tregs in autoimmune patients suffer from mitochondrial dysfunction, although the reasons for this are yet to be determined.

Excessive salt intake triggers an autoimmune-like state in Treg cells

Müller, who co-leads the Hypertension-Mediated End-Organ Damage Lab at the Max Delbrück Center and the ECRC, stated that they were interested in exploring whether sodium could lead to comparable problems in Tregs of healthy individuals, taking into account their previous findings on the impact of salt on the mitochondrial function of macrophages and monocytes, and their latest discoveries on mitochondria in Tregs of autoimmune patients.

Excessive salt intake can lead to an autoimmune-like state in Treg cells, but the mechanism of sodium affecting Treg function remains unknown.

Mobile Sliding Menu