1. Amino acids have been used to test renal reserve filtration capacity. Previous studies suggest that amino acids increase glomerular filtration rate (GFR) by reducing distal tubular flow and tubuloglomerular feedback activity.

2. Glomerular function and the renal tubular handling of sodium during infusion of amino acids was studied in 12 normal volunteers.

3. Clearance of sodium (CNa) was unchanged. Effective renal plasma flow increased slightly, but significantly, by 9% (P <0.05). GFR was increased by 13% (P <0.001). Clearance of lithium (CLi) (used as an index of proximal tubular outflow) increased by 38% (P <0.001). Calculated absolute proximal reabsorption (GFR-CLi) remained unchanged. Fractional proximal reabsorption [1-(CLi/GFR)] was decreased by 10% (P <0.001). Calculated absolute distal sodium reabsorption [(CLiCNa) × PNa, where PNa is plasma sodium concentration] increased by 40% (P <0.001). Plasma renin concentration did not change significantly.

4. The results suggest that amino acids increase GFR by a primary effect on renal haemodynamics or, less likely, by reducing the signal to the tubuloglomerular feedback mechanism. The increase in proximal tubular outflow was compensated for in the distal tubules, so that the sodium excretion rate remained unchanged.

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