1. The present study investigates the role of mineralocorticoids in the pathogenesis of salt retention and ascites in dogs with chronic ligation of the common bile duct (CBDL).

2. After CBDL the natriuretic response to an intravenous sodium load [0.9% sodium chloride solution (150 mmol/l): saline; 10% of body weight] was markedly depressed. Urinary sodium excretion was 285 ± 62 vs 960 ± 58 μmol/min in the control period before CBDL (P < 0.001). This antinatriuresis was associated with a significant rise in plasma aldosterone concentration, from 52.5 ± 5.5 pg/ml before CBDL to 177 ± 50 pg/ml after CBDL (P < 0.02). Ascites was present in all salt-retaining CBDL dogs.

3. Bilateral adrenalectomy resulted in disappearance of ascites and in a rise in the natriuretic response to extracellular volume expansion. Urinary sodium excretion was 770 ± 124 μmol/min, a value significantly higher than in the CBDL dogs with intact adrenals (P < 0.001). Sodium balance studies in the adrenalectomized CBDL dogs during chronic deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA) treatment (25 mg/day) showed that in these animals there was failure to escape from the mineralocorticoid-induced sodium retention. Glomerular filtration rate and renal plasma flow did not change during the studies.

4. The present evidence supports the thesis that sodium retention in the CBDL dog results from a dual mechanism: (a) excess of circulating aldosterone and (b) an extra-adrenal factor which prevents escape from the salt-retaining effect of mineralocorticoids, in the CBDL dogs, thereby perpetuating the antinatriuresis in these animals.

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