Hypertensive Sodium-Proton Exchanger Phenotype Persists in Immortalized Lymphoblasts from Essential Hypertensive Patients: A Cell Culture Model for Human Hypertension

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An enhancement of sodium-proton exchange activity is a frequently observed ion transport abnormality in essential hypertension. The cellular basis for this has not yet been elucidated. Due to the lack of a specific cell culture system it has been impossible to distinguish between intrinsic cellular abnormalities and influences exerted by the hypertensive neurohumoral milieu. Using Epstein-Barr virus we have immortalized lymphocytes from controls and from patients with essential hypertension that exhibited enhanced sodium-proton exchanger activity. Sodium-proton exchanger activity was determined in cells loaded with the fluorescent cytosolic pH indicator 2'7'-biscarboxyethyl-5,6-carboxyfluorescein acetoxymethylester (BCECF) after pretreatment with 250 nM of the phorbol ester 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate for 10 min. Cell lines from hypertensive patients displayed higher Vmax values of sodium-proton exchange than those from normotensive controls (129.6+/-30.0 vs. 77.1+/-13.2 mmol H+/min.; P < 0.001). Hill coefficients for H+ were distinctly lower in hypertension compared to normotension (1.12+/-0.12 vs. 1.50+/-0.14; P < 0.0001). The enhanced antiporter activity in cell lines from hypertensive patients was not accompanied by a corresponding increase in steady-state NHE-1 mRNA transcript levels, which argues against overexpression of antiporter protein in hypertension. The cells from hypertensive patients with high sodium-proton exchange activity proliferated distinctly faster than those from normotensive controls. These human cell lines represent a novel model to study the mutual interaction between sodium-proton exchange and cell proliferation, and may provide insights into the alterations in ion transport observed in a group of patients with essential hypertension. (J. Clin. Invest. 1993. 92:2553-2559.) Key words: essential hypertension. proliferation. pH regulation. gene expression

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