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Gut. 2002 Nov;51(5):736-41.

Renal tubular events following passage from the supine to the standing position in patients with compensated liver cirrhosis: loss of tubuloglomerular feedback.

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Gastroenterology Unit, Gradenigo Hospital, Torino, Italy.



Patients with preascitic liver cirrhosis display significant renal sodium retention in the upright posture and an exaggerated natriuresis during recumbency. To date, intrarenal sodium handling in these patients has not been studied using lithium clearance and fractional excretion techniques during recumbency and orthostatism.


Ten patients with preascitic (Child-Pugh A) liver cirrhosis and 10 healthy subjects underwent the following measurements during recumbency and then after four hours of standing: (a) active renin and aldosterone plasma levels; and (b) renal clearance of creatinine, sodium, potassium, and lithium (an index of fluid delivery to the loop of Henle).


Unlike the control group, in the upright posture patients had significantly lower values of lithium clearance and fractional excretion compared with recumbency (21.6 (8.6) v 30.5 (10.2) ml/min (p<0.03) and 12.8 (4.4)% v 20.8 (4.9)% (p<0.01), respectively). Our patients showed maintenance of the glomerular-tubular balance-that is, the correlation between creatinine clearance and proximal tubular reabsorption of fluid-during both recumbency and in the upright posture (r=0.96, p<0.001; r=0.97, p<0.001, respectively). In contrast, patients displayed tubuloglomerular feedback only in the supine position. This was demonstrated by the observation of a negative correlation between lithium fractional excretion (a measure of the fractional delivery of sodium to the distal nephron) and filtered sodium load only in recumbency (r=-0.73; p< 0.03) and not during standing (r=0.22; p> 0.05).


This study suggests that both the reduction in fluid and sodium delivery to the distal nephron and loss of tubuloglomerular feedback (the mechanism increasing glomerular filtration rate when the distal tubule is reached by a reduced sodium load) contribute towards the tendency to sodium retention in compensated cirrhosis during prolonged upright posture.

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