1. The plasma's ability to stimulate guinea-pig renal glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) in vitro was measured by a cytochemical technique in 23 normotensive subjects and 19 patients with hypertension, all of whom were studied on their normal sodium intake. The ability of plasma to stimulate renal G6PD was significantly (P < 0.001) increased in the hypertensive patients (mean 195 ± 52 units/ml) compared with the normotensive subjects (mean 22.2 ± 5.8 units/ml). In all 42 individuals, there was a significant correlation between diastolic pressure and the ability of plasma to stimulate G6PD (r = 0.69 P < 0.001).
2. The ability of plasma to stimulate G6PD was greatest in the hypertensive patients with values of plasma renin activity below the normal range. In the normotensive subjects the ability of plasma to stimulate G6PD was significantly greater in the older subjects.
3. As the ability of plasma to stimulate G6PD reflects its ability to inhibit Na+,K+-dependent ATPase, these results suggest that patients with essential hypertension have an increase in a circulating inhibitor of Na+,K+-ATPase. The results support the hypothesis that a rise in a circulating sodium transport inhibitor may, in part, be responsible for the rise in blood pressure in essential hypertension, and may form the link between salt intake, abnormalities of sodium transport and a rise in blood pressure.