High dietary NaCl early in development enhances mean arterial pressure of adult rats

Robert J. Contreras, Donna L. Wong, Ross Henderson, Kathleen S. Curtis, James C. Smith

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59 Scopus citations


We investigated the long-term influence of early dietary NaCl on adult mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate (HR), assessed continuously for 7 weeks when fed water and chow containing 1% NaCl (weeks 1, 4, 7), 0% NaCl (weeks 2-3), and 3% NaCl (weeks 5-6) while on a 12:12 light/dark cycle. Subjects were offspring of female Sprague-Dawley rats fed solid chow consisting of either 0.1% (basal), 1% (intermediate), or 3% (high) NaCl throughout pregnancy and lactation. After weaning on postnatal day (PD) 21, offspring were fed the same NaCl diet of their mother until PD 30, at which time all offspring were given Purina 5001 diet (1% NaCl) as their solid chow. On PD 60, 22 adult male offspring (eight basals, six intermediates, eight highs) were implanted with an aortic electronic sensor for transmitting blood-pressure signals by telemetry. MAP and HR varied significantly across the 7-week testing period in association with dietary NaCl levels. The three perinatal salt groups had similar HR levels on normal 1% NaCl chow. However, HR increased in all groups during 0% NaCl and decreased in all groups during 3% NaCl. In contrast, the average MAP levels were significantly greater in the highs compared to both the intermediate and basal groups during both dark and light periods. MAP increased in high and basal groups during both 0% and 3%; however, the increase was more pronounced in the highs. In conclusion, exposure to high levels of dietary NaCl early in development led to a persistent increase in MAP in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-181
Number of pages9
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2000


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Early experience
  • Heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Nutrition


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