Increased water intake reduces long-term renal and cardiovascular disease progression in experimental polycystic kidney disease

PLoS One. 2019 Jan 2;14(1):e0209186. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209186. eCollection 2019.


Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is the most common inherited cause of kidney failure and currently has limited treatment options. Increasing water intake reduces renal cyst growth in the pck rat (a genetic ortholog of autosomal recessive PKD) but it is not clear if this beneficial effect is present in other models of PKD. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that high water intake (HWI) reduces the progression of cystic renal disease in Lewis polycystic kidney (LPK) rats (a genetic ortholog of human nephronophthisis-9). Groups of female and male LPK (n = 8-10 per group) and Lewis (n = 4 per group) rats received water ad libitum supplemented with or without 5% glucose [to simulate HWI or normal water intake (NWI) respectively] from postnatal weeks 3 to 16. Water intake increased ~1.3-fold in the LPK+HWI group compared to LPK+NWI rats between weeks 3 to 10 but the differences were not significant at later timepoints. In LPK rats, HWI reduced the increases in the kidney to body weight ratio by 54% at week 10 and by 42% at week 16 compared to NWI (both p<0.01). The reduction in kidney enlargement was accompanied by decreases in the percentage renal cyst area, percentage renal interstitial collagen and proteinuria (all p<0.05). At week 16, HWI reduced systolic blood pressure and the heart to body to weight ratio by 16% and 21% respectively in males LPK rats (both p<0.01). In conclusion, a modest increase in water intake during the early phase of disease was sufficient to attenuate renal cystic disease in LPK rats, with secondary benefits on hypertension and cardiovascular disease. These data provide further preclinical evidence that increased water intake is a potential intervention in cystic renal diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Drinking*
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / therapy*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew


  • Creatinine

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant from the National Health and Research Medical Council (Grant numbers 632674 and 1138533, Recipient G.R.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.