Background & aims: Certain antinatriuretic hormonal systems may be involved in the subclinical sodium handling abnormality in preascitic cirrhosis. The aims of this study were to determine the following in preascitic cirrhosis: (1) basal activity of the renal sympathetic and renin-angiotensin systems and (2) the relationship between the response of these systems to lower body negative pressure and sodium excretion.
Methods: Seven preascitic cirrhotic patients and 9 age- and sex-matched controls were studied on a 150 mmol sodium per day diet. Systemic and renal hemodynamics, renal neurohormonal secretion rates, and sodium excretion were assessed before, during increasing levels of, and after lower body negative pressure, each for 30 minutes.
Results: Both groups responded with a significant decrease in central venous pressure (P < 0.01) that remained higher in the cirrhotics than in the controls throughout the study. Cirrhotics showed significant increases compared with controls in renal renin and angiotensin II secretion rates at -20 mm Hg of lower body negative pressure, which was associated with significant renal sodium retention (96 +/- 17 micromol/min vs. 218 +/- 21 micromol/min at baseline, P < 0.05), but there was no change in renal sympathetic activity.
Conclusions: In preascitic cirrhosis, sodium retention occurs in response to lower body negative pressure, which was associated with increased renal renin-angiotensin activity. Stimulation of the intrarenal renin-angiotensin system may be the initial renal pathophysiological change causing sodium retention in cirrhosis.