Background Arginine vasopressin dependent antidiuresis plays a key role in water-sodium retention in heart failure. In recent years, the role of glucocorticoids in the control of body fluid homeostasis has been extensively investigated. Glucocorticoid deficiency can activate V2R (vasopressin receptor 2), increase aquaporins expression, and result in hyponatremia, all of which can be reversed by glucocorticoid supplement. Methods and Results Heart failure was induced by coronary artery ligation for 8 weeks. A total of 32 rats were randomly assigned to 4 groups (n=8/group): sham surgery group, congestive heart failure group, dexamethasone group, and dexamethasone in combination with glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486 group. An acute water loading test was administered 6 hours after drug administration. Left ventricular function was measured by a pressure-volume catheter. Protein expressions were determined by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. The pressure-volume loop analysis showed that dexamethasone improves cardiac function in rats with heart failure. Western blotting confirmed that dexamethasone remarkably reduces the expressions of V2R, aquaporin 2, and aquaporin 3 in the renal-collecting ducts. As a result of V2R downregulation, the expressions of glucocorticoid regulated kinase 1, apical epithelial sodium channels, and the furosemide-sensitive Na-K-2Cl cotransporter were also downregulated. These favorable effects induced by dexamethasone were mostly abolished by the glucocorticoid receptor inhibitor RU486, indicating that the aforementioned effects are glucocorticoid receptor mediated. Conclusions Glucocorticoids can reverse diluted hyponatremia via inhibiting the vasopressin receptor pathway in rats with heart failure.
Keywords: aquaporins; cardiorenal syndrome; glucocorticoids; heart failure; hyponatremia; vasopressin.