A new study has revealed that how phosphate in the diet can increase heart disease risk.
The University of Leicester study found that high phosphate levels can cause a stress signal inside the cells that line blood vessels, leading to the release of microparticles that promote the formation of blood clots.
Inorganic phosphate is a nutrient in nearly all diets and because patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) lose the ability to excrete excess phosphate in their urine, the nutrient accumulates in their blood and cells. Such hyperphosphatemia is thought to be an important contributor to CKD patients' increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
The researchers' experiments revealed a mechanism by which an excess of inorganic phosphate, similar to levels found in the blood of CKD patients, causes a stress signal inside these cells. In cells that are stressed in this way, fragments known as microparticles break off from the cells and can promote the formation of blood clots.
Researcher Alan Bevington said that this is important because blocking of blood vessels by blood clots, a process known as thrombosis, is a common cause of injury and death, occurring in a wide range of human illnesses including CKD.
While the effects described in this study are especially relevant to patients with kidney dysfunction who lose the ability to excrete excess phosphate in their urine, nearly all modern Western diets are rich in phosphate, so even healthy individuals with normally functioning kidneys may experience some elevation of blood phosphate levels.
In addition, there are a number of metabolic disturbances that can raise phosphate levels inside cells. Nima Abbasian added that it's possible therefore that the results of this study will also be relevant in other situations in addition to CKD.
The study appears in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).