Dietary influences on the Dahl SS rat gut microbiota and its effects on salt-sensitive hypertension and renal damage

Justine M. Abais-Battad, Fatima L. Saravia, Hayley Lund, John Henry Dasinger, Daniel J. Fehrenbach, Ammar J. Alsheikh, Jeylan Zemaj, John R. Kirby, David L. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Our previous studies have demonstrated the importance of dietary factors in the determination of hypertension in Dahl salt-sensitive (SS) rats. Since the gut microbiota has been implicated in chronic diseases like hypertension, we hypothesized that dietary alterations shift the microbiota to mediate the development of salt-sensitive hypertension and renal disease. Methods: This study utilized SS rats from the Medical College of Wisconsin (SS/MCW) maintained on a purified, casein-based diet (0.4% NaCl AIN-76A, Dyets) and from Charles River Laboratories (SS/CRL) fed a whole grain diet (0.75% NaCl 5L79, LabDiet). Faecal 16S rDNA sequencing was used to phenotype the gut microbiota. Directly examining the contribution of the gut microbiota, SS/CRL rats were administered faecal microbiota transfer (FMT) experiments with either SS/MCW stool or vehicle (Vehl) in conjunction with the HS AIN-76A diet. Results: SS/MCW rats exhibit renal damage and inflammation when fed high salt (HS, 4.0% NaCl AIN-76A), which is significantly attenuated in SS/CRL. Gut microbiota phenotyping revealed distinct profiles that correlate with disease severity. SS/MCW FMT worsened the SS/CRL response to HS, evidenced by increased albuminuria (67.4 ± 6.9 vs 113.7 ± 25.0 mg/day, Vehl vs FMT, P =.007), systolic arterial pressure (158.6 ± 5.8 vs 177.8 ± 8.9 mmHg, Vehl vs FMT, P =.09) and renal T-cell infiltration (1.9-fold). Amplicon sequence variant (ASV)-based analysis of faecal 16S rDNA sequencing data revealed taxa that significantly shifted with FMT: Erysipelotrichaceae_2, Parabacteroides gordonii, Streptococcus alactolyticus, Bacteroidales_1, Desulfovibrionaceae_2, Ruminococcus albus. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that dietary modulation of the gut microbiota directly contributes to the development of Dahl SS hypertension and renal injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalActa Physiologica
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • diet
  • faecal microbiota transfer
  • gut microbiota
  • hypertension
  • immune cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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