Sodium in the microenvironment regulates immune responses and tissue homeostasis

Nat Rev Immunol. 2019 Apr;19(4):243-254. doi: 10.1038/s41577-018-0113-4.


During tissue inflammation, immune cells infiltrate the interstitial space of target organs, where they sense and adapt to local environmental stimuli. Such stimuli include not only pathogens but also local factors such as the levels of oxygenation, nutrients and electrolytes. An important electrolyte in this regard is sodium (Na+). Recent in vivo findings have shown a role of Na+ storage in the skin for electrolyte homeostasis. Thereby, Na+ intake may influence the activation status of the immune system through direct effects on T helper cell subsets and innate immune cells in tissues such as the skin and other target organs. Furthermore, high Na+ intake has been shown to alter the composition of the intestinal microbiota, with indirect effects on immune cells. The results suggest regulatory roles for Na+ in cardiovascular disease, inflammation, infection and autoimmunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cellular Microenvironment / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Sodium / immunology*


  • Sodium