The impact of high-salt exposure on cardiovascular development in the early chick embryo

Guang Wang, Nuan Zhang, Yi-Fan Wei, Yi-Mei Jin, Shi-Yao Zhang, Xin Cheng, Zheng-Lai Ma, Shu-Zhu Zhao, You-Peng Chen, Manli Chuai, Berthold Hocher (Lead / Corresponding author), Xuesong Yang (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we show that high-salt exposure dramatically increases chick mortality during embryo development. As embryonic mortality at early stages mainly results from defects in cardiovascular development, we focused on heart formation and angiogenesis. We found that high-salt exposure enhanced the risk of abnormal heart tube looping and blood congestion in the heart chamber. In the presence of high salt, both ventricular cell proliferation and apoptosis increased. The high osmolarity induced by high salt in the ventricular cardiomyocytes resulted in incomplete differentiation, which might be due to reduced expression of Nkx2.5 and GATA4. Blood vessel density and diameter were suppressed by exposure to high salt in both the yolk sac membrane (YSM) and chorioallantoic membrane models. In addition, high-salt-induced suppression of angiogenesis occurred even at the vasculogenesis stage, as blood island formation was also inhibited by high-salt exposure. At the same time, cell proliferation was repressed and cell apoptosis was enhanced by high-salt exposure in YSM tissue. Moreover, the reduction in expression of HIF2 and FGF2 genes might cause high-salt-suppressed angiogenesis. Interestingly, we show that high-salt exposure causes excess generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the heart and YSM tissues, which could be partially rescued through the addition of antioxidants. In total, our study suggests that excess generation of ROS might play an important role in high-salt-induced defects in heart and angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3468-3477
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2015


  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Apoptosis
  • Cardiovascular abnormalities
  • Cell proliferation
  • Chick Embryo
  • Chorioallantoic membrane
  • Embryonic development
  • Gene expression regulation, Developmental
  • Heart
  • Human umbilical vein endothelial cells
  • Humans
  • Morphogenesis
  • Myocytes, Cardiac
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Yolk sac
  • Journal article
  • Research support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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