1. Whole-body elimination rate of 22Na+ was decreased in normotensive or borderline first-degree relatives of hypertensive probands.

2. Whole-body potassium; exchangeable sodium and urine excretion of sodium, potassium and creatinine were similar in relatives and controls.

3. Erythrocyte net influx of 22Na+ was significantly increased in normotensive relatives.

4. Abnormal whole-body and cellular handling of sodium (22Na+) demonstrated in relatives indicates that this abnormality may have an important role in the development of essential hypertension in man.

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