Send to

Choose Destination
Physiol Behav. 2010 Apr 26;100(1):15-21. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2010.02.026. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

Thirst and hydration: physiology and consequences of dysfunction.

Author information

Université Henri Poincaré, Nancy Université, Nancy, France.


The constant supply of oxygen and nutriments to cells (especially neurons) is the role of the cardiovascular system. The constant supply of water (and sodium) for cardiovascular function is the role of thirst and sodium appetite and kidney function. This physiological regulation ensures that plasma volume and osmolality are maintained within set limits by initiating behaviour and release of hormones necessary to ingest and conserve water and sodium within the body. This regulation is separated into 2 parts; intracellular and extracellular (blood). An increased osmolality draws water from cells into the blood thus dehydrating specific brain osmoreceptors that stimulate drinking and release of anti diuretic hormone (ADH or vasopressin). ADH reduces water loss via lowered urine volume. Extracellular dehydration (hypovolaemia) stimulates specific vascular receptors that signal brain centres to initiate drinking and ADH release. Baro/volume receptors in the kidney participate in stimulating the release of the enzyme renin that starts a cascade of events to produce angiotensin II (AngII), which initiates also drinking and ADH release. This stimulates also aldosterone release which reduces kidney loss of urine sodium. Both AngII and ADH are vasoactive hormones that could work to reduce blood vessel diameter around the remaining blood. All these events work in concert so that the cardiovascular system can maintain a constant perfusion pressure, especially to the brain. Even if drinking does not take place ADH, AngII and aldosterone are still released. Furthermore, it has been observed that treatment of hypertension, obesity, diabetes and cancer can involve renin-AngII antagonists which could suggest that, in humans at least, there may be dysfunction of the thirst regulatory mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center