Background: In the coronary and the forearm circulations, endothelium-dependent vasomotion is impaired in smokers, but can be augmented by -arginine or vitamin C. We examined whether smoking similarly affects the renal circulation.
Methods: In 20 smokers (age 26 +/- 4 years) and in 20 non-smokers (age 28 +/- 3 years) changes of renal plasma flow (RPF), glomerular filtration rate (GFR), blood pressure and heart rate in response to the subsequent intravenous infusions of N(G)-monomethyl--arginine (L-NMMA), -arginine and -arginine plus vitamin C were studied by use of a constant infusion input clearance technique.
Results: Systemic haemodynamic parameters did not differ between smokers and non-smokers during each experimental phase. At baseline, RPF and GFR were similar between the groups. The infusion of L-NMMA led to a similar decrease of RPF, while GFR did not change in either group. During the infusion of -arginine RPF increased similarly. Finally, the co-infusion of -arginine plus vitamin C led to a significantly greater increase of RPF (+277 +/- 395 vs +79 +/- 76 ml/min, P = 0.03) and GFR (+12.1 +/- 10.6 vs +3.4 +/- 11.2 ml/min, P = 0.02) in smokers as compared to non-smokers.
Conclusions: L-NMMA-induced vasoconstriction of the renal vasculature was similar in smokers compared to non-smokers. -arginine alone induced a similar increase of RPF. The co-infusion of vitamin C and -arginine led to a greater increase of RPF and GFR in smokers. This might suggest that oxidative stress is increased in the renal vasculature of smokers.