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Biomarker for Salt Sensitivity of Blood Pressure Discovered

For the first time researchers have identified a genetic marker (GNAI2) that is associated with the risk of salt sensitivity in blood pressure (BP) regardless of age or gender.

It is hoped that with this discovery a simple test to identify salt sensitivity of BP during a clinical visit can be developed.

High blood pressure (hypertension) impacts nearly one of every two adults in the U.S. and is the leading global non-communicable cause of death. It is projected to be the primary global cause of death and disability by 2020. Salt sensitivity in blood pressure is a major risk factor for hypertension and increased cardiovascular risk and is highly relevant given that 99 percent of U.S. adults exceed the recommended daily intake for salt.

“Our data highlights a potential genetic method to screen for the salt sensitivity of blood pressure that may identify patients who exhibit the salt sensitivity of blood pressure. Possessing this specific marker makes you three times more likely to be salt sensitive than people who don’t have the marker,” explained corresponding author Richard Wainford, PhD, associate professor of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).

The researchers looked at two groups of patients. The first group had no change in blood pressure in response to high dietary salt intake (meaning they were salt resistant). The second group of patients had an increase in blood pressure in response to high dietary salt intake (salt sensitive). Both groups were then screened for genetic variation in the GNAI2 gene. Those patients with the gene variation were more likely to be salt sensitive.

“Developing a simple diagnostic biomarker of individual salt-sensitivity of BP would aid in identifying individuals at risk for developing salt sensitivity related complications (hypertension, cardiac, renal and cerebral diseases), and in risk stratification and treatment decisions in individuals with established salt-sensitive conditions.”

The findings appear in the journal Physiological Genomics.

Source: Science Daily


Today’s Comic

Sniffing Out Real Truffles

At a cost of thousands of dollars per pound, truffles are an expensive food. The fungi are prized for their distinctive aroma, and many foods claim truffles or their aromas as ingredients. But some of these foods may actually contain a much less pricey synthetic truffle compound. To help detect food fraud, researchers report in Analytical Chemistrythat they have developed a technique that discriminates between these natural and synthetic compounds.

White truffles (Tuber magnatum Pico) are the most valuable species of the fungus, and researchers have previously identified bis(methylthio)methane as the key compound responsible for white truffle aroma. Synthetic bis(methylthio)methane, produced from petrochemicals, has been approved by the World Health Organization as a food additive, yet some foods made with this cheaper compound may still command a premium price if consumers believe that they contain authentic white truffles. Current methods cannot reliably discriminate between natural and synthetic bis(methylthio)methane. To help fight food fraud, Luigi Mondello and colleagues wanted to develop a new approach.

The researchers exploited the differences in carbon isotope ratios between plant- and petroleum-derived versions of bis(methylthio)methane. After optimizing the technique of multidimensional gas chromatography coupled to combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry, they used the method to compare the carbon isotope ratios of bis(methylthio)methane from 24 genuine white truffles harvested at different locations in Italy, two commercial intact truffles and 14 commercial samples of foods flavored with truffles or truffle aroma. The approach could clearly discriminate foods that contained synthetic truffle aroma or a mixture of synthetic and natural aromas, and it could distinguish among products containing white truffle and those containing other species of the fungus. The researchers conclude that the improved technique can help validate foods that claim to contain truffles or natural truffle aroma.

Source: American Chemical Society

Accurate Measurements of Sodium Intake Confirm Relationship with Mortality

Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, but a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and their colleagues using multiple measurements confirms it. The study suggests that an inaccurate way of estimating sodium intake may help account for the paradoxical findings of others.

“Sodium is notoriously hard to measure,” said Nancy Cook, ScD, a biostatistician in the Department of Medicine at BWH. “Sodium is hidden – you often don’t know how much of it you’re eating, which makes it hard to estimate how much a person has consumed from a dietary questionnaire. Sodium excretions are the best measure, but there are many ways of collecting those. In our work, we used multiple measures to get a more accurate picture.”

Sodium intake can be measured using a spot test to determine how much salt has been excreted in a person’s urine sample. However, sodium levels in urine can fluctuate throughout the day so an accurate measure of a person’s sodium intake on a given day requires a full 24-hour sample. In addition, sodium consumption may change from day to day, meaning that the best way to get a full picture of sodium intake is to take samples on multiple days.

While previous studies have used spot samples and the Kawasaki formula, the team assessed sodium intake in multiple ways, including estimates based on that formula as well as ones based on the gold-standard method, which uses the average of multiple, non-consecutive urine samples. They assessed results for participants in the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, which included nearly 3,000 individuals with pre-hypertension.

The gold-standard method showed a direct linear relationship between increased sodium intake and increased risk of death. The team found that the Kawasaki formula suggested a J-shaped curve, which would imply that both low levels and high levels of sodium consumption were associated with increased mortality.

“Our findings indicate that inaccurate measurement of sodium intake could be an important contributor to the paradoxical J-shaped findings reported in some cohort studies. Epidemiological studies should not associate health outcomes with unreliable estimates of sodium intake,” the authors wrote.

Source: EurekAlert!


Today’s Comic

Philadelphia City Council Passes Sodium Warning for Chain-Restaurant Menus

The Philadelphia City Council voted unanimously today to give patrons of chain restaurants the information they need to help make informed decisions to protect their health.

The new law will require a warning label next to menu items that contain 2,300 or more milligrams of sodium (the amount in about a teaspoon of salt). That’s the recommended limit for an entire day.

Americans consume far too much sodium, mostly from restaurant and processed foods, which contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year due to heart disease and stroke. When Mayor Jim Kenney signs today’s measure into law, Philadelphia will become the second city to take this important step—joining New York City, which passed the nation’s first sodium warning policy in 2015. The new sodium warnings will complement calorie labeling that just went into effect nationwide, providing even more incentive for restaurants to improve the healthfulness of their menus and giving consumers more information when choosing what to order.

Source: Center for Science in the Public Interest