Dietary potassium (K+) supplementation is associated with a lowering effect in blood pressure (BP), but not all studies agree. Here, we examined the effects of short- and long-term K+ supplementation on BP in mice, whether differences depend on the accompanying anion or the sodium (Na+) intake and molecular alterations in the kidney that may underlie BP changes. Relative to the control diet, BP was higher in mice fed a high NaCl (1.57% Na+) diet for 7 weeks or fed a K+-free diet for 2 weeks. BP was highest on a K+-free/high NaCl diet. Commensurate with increased abundance and phosphorylation of the thiazide sensitive sodium-chloride-cotransporter (NCC) on the K+-free/high NaCl diet, BP returned to normal with thiazides. Three weeks of a high K+ diet (5% K+) increased BP (predominantly during the night) independently of dietary Na+ or anion intake. Conversely, 4 days of KCl feeding reduced BP. Both feeding periods resulted in lower NCC levels but in increased levels of cleaved (active) α and γ subunits of the epithelial Na+ channel ENaC. The elevated BP after chronic K+ feeding was reduced by amiloride but not thiazide. Our results suggest that dietary K+ has an optimal threshold where it may be most effective for cardiovascular health.


Robert Little, Sathish K. Murali, Søren B. Poulsen, Paul R. Grimm, Adrienne Assmus, Lei Cheng, Jessica R. Ivy, Ewout J. Hoorn, Vladimir Matchkov, Paul A. Welling, Robert A. Fenton


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