1. To examine the hypothesis that the normalcy of blood pressure, despite an increase in circulating angiotensin II, and the blood pressor hyporesponsiveness to infusion of pressor agents which are associated with hypokalaemia, are due to overproduction of prostacyclin, the principal prostaglandin (PG) synthesized by the vascular endothelium, we studied the effect of experimental hypokalaemia on the urinary excretion of immunoreactive 6-keto-prostaglandin F1α, a stable metabolite of prostacyclin, in the rat.
2. The animals were fed on a potassium-deficient diet for 9 days. Twenty-four hour urine samples were collected daily for measurement of urinary excretion of immunoreactive 6-keto-PGF1α, PGE2 and 13,14-dihydro-15-keto-PGF2α (PGFM).
3. Hypokalaemia caused significant increases of the three prostaglandins measured.
4. We conclude that hypokalaemia is a potent stimulus of both renal and vascular prostaglandins. The results suggest that an increase in prostacyclin synthesis in peripheral blood vessel walls may be responsible for the resistance of blood pressure to infusion of pressor substances as well as for the normalcy of blood pressure, despite the presence of high circulating angiotensin II concentrations, in conditions associated with hypokalaemia.