High-fat diet-induced hypertension is associated with a proinflammatory T cell profile in male and female dahl salt-sensitive rats

Lia E. Taylor, Ellen E. Gillis, Jacqueline B. Musall, Babak Baban, Jennifer C. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Evidence supports a sex difference in the impact of a high-fat diet (HFD) on cardiovascular outcomes, with male experimental animals exhibiting greater increases in blood pressure (BP) than female experimental animals. The immune system has been implicated in HFD-induced increases in BP, and there is a sex difference in T-cell activation in hypertension. The goal of this study was to determine the impact of HFD on BP and aortic and renal T cell profiles in male and female Dahl salt-sensitive (DSS) rats. We hypothesized that male DSS rats would have greater increases in BP and T cell infiltration in response to a HFD compared with female DSS rats. BP was measured by tail-cuff plethysmography, and aortic and renal T cells were assessed by flow cytometric analysis in male and female DSS rats on a normal-fat diet (NFD) or HFD from 12 to 16 wk of age. Four weeks of HFD increased BP in male and female DSS rats to a similar degree. Increases in BP were accompanied by increased percentages of CD4+ T cells and T helper (Th)17 cells in both sexes, although male rats had more proinflammatory T cells. Percentages of renal CD3+ and CD4+ T cells as well as Th17 cells were increased in both sexes by the HFD, although the increase in CD3+ T cells was greater in male rats. HFD also decreased the percentage of aortic and renal regulatory T cells in both sexes, although female rats maintained more regulatory T cells than male rats regardless of diet. In conclusion, both male and female DSS rats exhibit BP sensitivity to a HFD; however, the mechanisms mediating HFD-induced increases in BP may be distinct as male rats exhibit greater increases in the percentage of proinflammatory T cells than female rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H1713-H1723
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018



  • Aorta
  • Inflammation
  • Kidney
  • Sex differences
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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