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Kidney Int. 1994 Jul;46(1):230-6.

Endogenous nitric oxide synthesis determines sensitivity to the pressor effect of salt.

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Minneapolis VAMC, Minnesota.


Endogenous nitric oxide plays an important role in modulation of renal hemodynamics and sodium handling, with increased nitric oxide production inducing renal vasodilation and natriuresis. In the normal rat, nitric oxide activity increases as an adaptive response to increased dietary salt intake, perhaps facilitating natriuresis and thus blood pressure homeostasis. We hypothesized that impaired nitric oxide synthetic ability would result in sensitivity to the pressor effects of high dietary salt intake. Four groups of normal Sprague-Dawley rats were observed for eight weeks: Control, 0.4% NaCl chow and tap water; Salt, 4% NaCl chow and tap water; NAME, 0.4% NaCl chow and water containing the nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, L-nitro-arginine-methylester; Salt+NAME, 4% NaCl chow and water containing L-nitro-arginine-methylester. Compared to Controls, Salt rats demonstrated a significant increase in urinary excretion rate of the stable nitric oxide metabolites, NO2 and NO3, and had no increase in blood pressure. Furthermore, Salt rats had no functional or structural evidence of renal injury. In contrast, Salt+NAME rats demonstrated a significantly higher blood pressure than NAME rats, and urinary NO2 and NO3 excretion rate did not increase despite high salt intake. After eight weeks, Salt+NAME rats had significantly impaired renal function and proteinuria. We conclude that adaptive changes in endogenous NO production play a critical role in sodium and blood pressure homeostasis. Furthermore, impaired nitric oxide synthase activity may be a pathogenetic factor in the development of salt-sensitive hypertension.

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