Physiologists, researchers to discuss factors underlying cardiovascular disease at APS conference

International physiologists and researchers studying the kidney, high blood pressure and related medical conditions will convene next week at the American Physiological Society (APS) Aldosterone and ENaC in Health and Disease: The Kidney and Beyond Conference in Estes Park, Colo.

The number of people with obesity, age-related high blood pressure and heart failure is steadily increasing. The rise in these chronic health conditions highlights the importance of understanding the drivers of heart disease, including aldosterone-;a mineralocorticoid hormone produced by the adrenal glands-;and its relationship with the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR).

ENaC is an ion channel located on cell membranes that forms a pathway for sodium reabsorption in the kidneys. MR is a protein that binds to aldosterone, an important regulator of ENaC. Together, they regulate the body's balance of salt and water.

Elevated aldosterone and activation of mineralocorticoid receptors is increasingly common in growing populations with heart failure, high blood pressure and obesity. In these populations, elevated aldosterone is associated with increased risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death."

Iris Jaffe, MD, PhD, conference co-organizer, Tufts Medical Center in Boston

"This conference summarizes state-of-the-art understanding of the mechanisms driving inappropriate aldosterone release and [its] impact on the heart, lung, kidneys, blood vessels and [other organs]," Jaffe said.

"It brings together scientists from two complementary fields (aldosterone/MR and ENaC) and from across the spectrum of basic to clinical research. In this way, the conference facilitates synergies and new interactions that advance the research in these fields," added conference co-organizer Peter Snyder, MD, of the University of Iowa.

Topics "will cover new and exciting discoveries in ENaC [such as] the recently solved three-dimension structure of ENaC and the development of mini kidneys (kidney organoids) for clinical research" said conference co-organizer Daniela Rotin, PhD, of the Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto in Canada.

Conference goals include learning more about the basic biology of these molecules, their role in kidney function and blood pressure, and the patients who would benefit most from emerging treatments. The program will include research-based sessions, abstract-driven presentations and poster sessions.

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