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Am J Physiol. 1989 Mar;256(3 Pt 2):R597-604.

Effect of blood glucose concentration on osmoregulation in diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Endocrine Unit, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.


Poorly controlled insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus is associated with considerable elevations of plasma vasopressin concentrations, although well-controlled diabetics have normal osmoregulated thirst and vasopressin release. We studied the effect of blood glucose concentration on osmoregulated thirst and vasopressin secretion in insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Blood glucose was maintained overnight, and for the duration of the study, in either the euglycemic (4-5 mmol/l) or hyperglycemic (10-12 mmol/l) range, and patients underwent infusion of hypertonic (855 mmol/l) sodium chloride solution. Plasma sodium was lower during the hyperglycemic study, but elevation in plasma sodium concentration by infusion of saline caused progressive linear increases in both thirst and plasma vasopressin concentrations in both studies. Linear regression analysis defined lowered plasma sodium thresholds for both thirst appreciation and vasopressin release during the hyperglycemic study, although the sensitivity of the osmoreceptors remained unchanged. Analysis of the data in terms of plasma osmolality, corrected for the increase in blood glucose in the hyperglycemic study, revealed no differences in the osmotic thresholds for thirst or vasopressin release; sensitivity of the osmoreceptors also remained the same. Drinking abolished thirst and lowered plasma vasopressin concentrations before major changes in plasma sodium were observed. These results show that insulin-dependent diabetic patients osmoregulate appropriately when moderately hyperglycemic but that the threshold plasma sodium for vasopressin secretion and thirst appreciation is lowered by an unknown mechanism.

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