Sodium-sensitive hypertension is not associated with higher sympathetic nervous system activity in older hypertensive humans

Michael D. Brown, Robert V. Hogikyan, Donald R. Dengel, Mark A. Supiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The majority of older hypertensive humans are sodium sensitive and they are characterized by increased α-adrenergic responsiveness relative to their level of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. To test the hypothesis that heightened SNS activity and/or increased α-adrenergic receptor responsiveness during sodium loading may play a role in the sodium-dependent increase in blood pressure in older sodium-sensitive hypertensives, we used compartmental analysis of [3H]norepinephrine (NE) kinetics to determine the release rate of NE into an extravascular compartment (NE2) as an index of systemic SNS activity and determined forearm blood flow responses to graded intrabrachial artery NE and angiotensin II (ANG II) infusions and platelet membrane α2-receptor properties in 24 older (age 64 ± 7 years) hypertensive subjects. Subjects were studied at the end of 1 week of a low (20 mmol/day)-and again at the end of 1 week of a high (200 mmol/day)-sodium diet. Subjects were categorized as sodium sensitive (SS) if they had a ≥ 5 mm Hg increase in mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) with dietary sodium loading (n = 16), or sodium-resistant (SR) if their MABP increased by < 5 mm Hg (n = 8). Neither dietary sodium intake nor sodium-sensitivity status significantly affected arterial plasma NE levels, NE2, or other NE kinetic parameters. Forearm blood flow responses to NE or to ANG II, and platelet α2-receptor properties were similar between the SS and SR groups. These results suggest that the sodium-dependent increase in MABP that characterizes SS hypertension among older humans is not because of an increase in systemic SNS activity or increased arterial adrenergic receptor responsiveness. (C) 2000 American Journal of Hypertension, Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-883
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of hypertension
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2000


  • Aging
  • Blood pressure
  • Dietary sodium
  • Norepinephrine
  • Sympathetic nervous system


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