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Hypertension. 1990 Aug;16(2):121-30.

Evidence for increased renal norepinephrine overflow during sodium restriction in humans.

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  • 1Clinical Research Unit, Baker Medical Research Institute/Alfred Hospital, Prahran, Victoria, Australia.


To investigate the differentiated pattern of efferent sympathetic nerve activity by means of analyzing norepinephrine kinetics in response to sodium restriction, cardiorenal sympathetic activity during rest and mental stress was studied in 12 subjects (33.3 +/- 2.6 years old, SEM) exposed to a low and a normal sodium diet; 5-40 mmol and 160-200 mmol/24 hours, respectively (crossover design). Organ norepinephrine release was calculated from organ plasma flow, arteriovenous plasma concentration gradient across the organ and the organ's fractional extraction of radiolabeled norepinephrine. Body weight and urinary sodium/24 hr fell significantly and urinary potassium/24 hr and both supine and standing blood pressure remained unchanged. Total norepinephrine release to plasma and norepinephrine plasma clearance were similar in both phases (approximately 460 ng/min and 1.90 l/min, respectively). A 138% increase in renal norepinephrine overflow was observed during sodium restriction (from 112 to 267 ng/min, p less than 0.025), which was due to elevated renal vein norepinephrine (434 versus 290 pg/ml, p less than 0.01) because renal plasma flow and renal norepinephrine extraction were unaltered. Similarly, sodium restriction caused a 168% elevation of renal renin secretion (p less than 0.05). Resting cardiac norepinephrine spillover and cardiac norepinephrine reuptake were unchanged between the two salt phases. Total and cardiac norepinephrine release, supine blood pressure, and heart rate increased to about the same extent in response to mental testing regardless of salt phase. In conclusion, sodium restriction induced a differential and physiological increase in resting renal sympathetic nervous activity, leaving cardiac norepinephrine overflow unchanged. Cardiac norepinephrine uptake was normal, which further supports the concept of a true increase of efferent renal nerve activity.

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