The influence of dietary salt and plasma renin activity on myosin heavy chain gene expression in rat hearts
The renin-angiotensin system has been implicated as a possible mediator of the cardiac adaptations that develop in response to chronic pressure overload. In order to explore this, we studied rats that had elevated plasma renin activity (PRA) secondary to 6 weeks of either dietary salt restriction or renovascular hypertension (Htn)--conditions that exert distinctly different loads on the myocardium. Separate groups of sham and Htn animals were maintained on a high salt diet that resulted in a relative (Htn) or absolute (sham) reduction in PRA. Heart weight and heart/body weight ratios were increased only in animals with Htn. The ratio of alpha/beta myosin heavy chain (MHC) mRNA was significantly decreased with Htn. This ratio was markedly increased with low salt and was not influenced by high salt intake. Thus, the circulating renin-angiotensin system does not appear to play a primary role in defining cardiac myosin heavy chain adaptations to hemodynamic loads. However, sodium restriction, either via its hemodynamic or humoral effects, is sufficient to induce a physiologic change in myosin heavy chain gene expression in rats.