Traditionally, arterial hypertension and subsequent end-organ damage have been attributed to haemodynamic factors, but increasing evidence indicates that inflammation also contributes to the deleterious consequences of this disease. The immune system has evolved to prevent invasion of foreign microorganisms and to promote tissue healing after injury. However, this beneficial activity comes at a cost of collateral damage when the immune system overreacts to internal injury, such as prehypertension. Over the past few years, important findings have revolutionized hypertension research. Firstly, in 2007, a seminal paper showed that adaptive immunity is involved in the pathogenesis of hypertension. Secondly, salt storage in the skin and its consequences for cardiovascular physiology were discovered. Thirdly, after the discovery that salt promotes the differentiation of CD4+ T cells into TH 17 cells, it was demonstrated that salt directly changes several cells of the innate and adaptive immune system and aggravates autoimmune disease but may improve antimicrobial defence. Herein, we will review pathways of activation of immune cells by salt in hypertension as the framework for understanding the multiple roles of salt and immunity in arterial hypertension and autoimmune disease. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed section on Immune Targets in Hypertension. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v176.12/issuetoc.
© 2018 The British Pharmacological Society.