In 4 patients with cirrhosis and ascites, diuretic therapy resulted in an impairment of renal function that was associated with a rise in plasma renin activity (PRA). In 3, this occurred in the absence of volume depletion. When diuretics were discontinued, renal function returned to normal. β-adrenergic blocking drugs were then given to suppress renin secretion and diurectics restarted. On this occasion, impairment of renal function did not occur. In 2 further patients, administration of β-adrenergic blockers during a period of diuretic-induced renal impairment resulted in an improvement in renal function. Although these findings may indicate that diuretic-induced renal impairment in cirrhosis is at least partly due to activation of the renin-angiotensin system, in another group of patients a diuretic-induced rise in PRA was not associated with a deterioration in renal function.
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