1. Negative pressure breathing was one of the first physiological tools used to study the renal effects of redistribution of the blood volume from the peripheries to the thorax. The recent discovery of a putative natriuretic hormone (atrial natriuretic peptide, ANP) in cardiac atrial tissue has rekindled interest in the effect of the cardiovascular system on renal function. We have therefore studied the effects of this physiological manoeuvre on plasma ANP concentrations and renal responses.

2. Plasma concentrations of ANP, plasma renin activity and plasma aldosterone concentration were measured during an 80 min period of negative pressure breathing at −12 cmH2O pressure in six hydrated normal subjects. Identical control studies were performed in the same subjects at at least 1 week apart.

3. Negative pressure breathing resulted in a natriuresis and diuresis which were associated with a significant rise in plasma ANP concentration. The natriuresis occurred despite an increase in plasma renin activity and in plasma aldosterone concentration.

4. These findings, under specific carefully controlled conditions, support the previously contentious postulate that negative pressure breathing enhances sodium excretion, in addition to its well-recognized diuretic effect. They add further weight to the hypothesis that expansion of the central blood volume is an important stimulus to the release of ANP from the heart (acting by way of atrial distension), and suggest that changes of plasma ANP concentration may have induced the natriuresis which occurred in the face of a modest activation of the sodium-retaining renin-aldosterone system.

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