1. The influence of oral water loading on the excretion rate of prostaglandin (PG) E was investigated in healthy human subjects in a control study where the urine was acidic (pH 5.7) and after oral sodium bicarbonate, which made the urine mildly alkaline (pH 7.2). PGE was immediately extracted from urine and measured by a radioimmunoassay technique.
2. After sodium bicarbonate (5 g) the urinary PGE excretion rate was some three-fold higher (P < 0.01) than in the control study, in the absence of any significant difference in the urine flow (approximately 80 ml/h).
3. In the control study (urine pH 5.7) the urinary PGE excretion rate increased significantly (P < 0.01) as the urine flow rose in response to the oral fluid load. However, after sodium bicarbonate, PGE excretion did not alter after the fluid load despite a 10-fold increase in urine flow.
4. Since after bicarbonate administration PGE excretion is independent of urine flow, mildly alkaline urine may represent a condition under which renal PGE synthesis can be effectively assessed from measurements of urinary PGE excretion, in the presence of changes in urine flow.
5. In addition, the results are compatible with the hypothesis that, in man, PGE may be passively reabsorbed in the distal nephron, and a reduction in this reabsorption could contribute to or be responsible for the dependency of the excretion rate of PGE on urine flow.