Hypertension is a complex condition involving functional and structural alterations of the microvasculature and an activation of the immune system. T-lymphocytes play a crucial role during the development of hypertension in experimental models, yet the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Lymphocyte egress from lymph nodes is controlled by sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a natural lipid mediator regulating immune cell and vascular function in health and disease. We therefore investigated the involvement of S1P signalling in the pathogenesis of hypertension.Methods and results
Angiotensin-II (AngII) treatment resulted in high blood pressure (BP) associated to increased plasma S1P and circulating T-cell counts. T-cell egress from lymph nodes was found to be a critical initial step for the onset of hypertension as fingolimod, a S1P-receptor agonist sequestering lymphocytes in the lymph nodes and inducing lymphopenia, blunted BP responses to AngII. Furthermore, activity of S1P-generating enzyme type 2 (SphK2) in haematopoietic cells critically contributed to AngII-induced lymphocyte mobilization from the lymph nodes as SphK2-/- mice and mice where SphK2 was ablated only in the haematopoietic system presented an accumulation of T-cells in mesenteric lymph nodes and a blunted BP response. In addition, deregulation of vascular SphK2 expression associated to a thrombo-inflammatory phenotype of the microvasculature, and to functional alterations of small resistance arteries.Conclusion
The presented results point to a critical involvement of S1P and its signalling axis in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Specifically, SphK2 evolves as key player in immune cell trafficking and vascular dysfunction contributing to the development of overt hypertension.