Purpose: It is possible that abnormalities in atrial natriuretic peptide may be involved in the pathogenesis of sodium retention in edema states. We performed a study in a group of 12 sodium-retaining cirrhotic subjects to determine the role of this peptide in mediating differences in the natriuretic response to central volume expansion induced by head-out water immersion. Patients and methods: Each patient was maintained for seven days on a 20-mmol sodium intake, and then studied on both control and immersion days. On each day, measurements of the following were obtained: plasma atrial natriuretic peptide, hematocrit, electrolytes, creatinine, plasma renin activity, serum aldosterone, urinary cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), blood pressure, and pulse rate. Results: In six subjects, immersion resulted in a marked natriuresis sufficient to induce negative sodium balance by the third hour, and these subjects were termed "responders." In these six patients, baseline pre-immersion levels of plasma renin activity and serum aldosterone were all below 3 ng/liter/second and 4 nmol/liter, respectively. In the other six subjects, the natriuretic response to immersion was markedly blunted and insufficient to induce negative sodium balance, and these subjects were termed "non-responders." In these subjects, baseline pre-immersion levels of plasma renin activity and aldosterone were all above 3.5 ng/liter/second and 5 nmol/liter, respectively, and were significantly elevated compared with the responders, and compared with the normal range for control subjects consuming the same sodium intake. In both groups of cirrhotic subjects, baseline levels of plasma atrial natriuretic peptide and cGMP excretion were significantly and comparably elevated compared with the normal range for control subjects ingesting the same sodium intake. Despite the marked difference in the natriuretic response to immersion in both responders and non-responders, there was a significant and comparable further elevation of plasma atrial natriuretic peptide and urinary cGMP excretion during immersion, compared with the control day. Conclusion: These results suggest that the relative resistance to the natriuretic action of atrial natriuretic peptide in the non-responders compared with the responders is mediated by anti-natriuretic factors acting at a level parallel with or beyond atrial natriuretic peptide release or coupling to its cGMP-linked receptors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
From the Department of Medicine, Toronto General Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital Research Institute, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. This work was funded by grants from the Physicians of Ontario and from the Medical Research Council of Canada. Ciba-Geigy Corporation of Canada provided funding in support of research fellows. Requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. K. L. Skorecki. Toronto General Hospital 13EN-239,200 Elizabeth Street, Toronto, Canada M5G2C4. Manuscript received January 29, 1988, and accepted in revised form June 29,1988.