Besides intrarenal physical factors and aldosterone, a natriuretic hormone has been postulated to modulate renal tubular sodium resorption in order to maintain body fluid homeostasis. To investigate the possible role of a natriuretic activity in sodium retention of chronic liver disease, the effects of plasma and plasma fraction IV from patients with cirrhosis of the liver and ascites on sodium transport of the isolated frog skin and on renal sodium excretion in the rat were compared to the antinatriferic and natriuretic effects of plasma from healthy subjects. While plasma from healthy individuals obtained following acute expansion of the extracellular fluid volume (ECV) significantly inhibited potential difference (PD) by -43·8 ± 5·5% and short circuit current (SCC) by -41·3 ± 1·7% when applied to the inner skin surface, control plasma and plasma from patients with liver cirrhosis and ascites affected PD by -3·8 ± 4·7% and -5·2 ± 3·7% and SCC by -7·3 ± 4·6% and -11·7 ± 2·5% respectively.
Similar effects on PD and SCC were observed with plasma fractions IV.
In contrast to fraction IV from ECV-expanded individuals, which caused marked diuresis and natriuresis when injected in the rat, fraction IV of plasma from cirrhotic patients failed to affect urinary flow rate, free-water clearance or renal sodium excretion. The results suggest that at least some patients with cirrhosis of the liver and sodium retention may lack an adequate humoral natriuretic activity sufficiently to promote renal sodium excretion.
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