1. To examine whether or not atrial natriuretic peptide-induced proteinuria simply results from increases in urine flow or glomerular filtration rate, we infused dopamine (1 μg min−1 kg−1) and α-human atrial natriuretic peptide (0.025 μg min−1 kg−1) into nine patients with chronic glomerulonephritis and nine essential hypertensive patients without renal damage, and compared the effects of the two agents on renal function and urinary protein excretion.

2. In patients with chronic glomerulonephritis, dopamine infusion significantly increased urinary sodium excretion (+ 59%), renal blood flow (+ 20%) and creatinine clearance (+ 14%). However, urinary protein excretion was not changed. Addition of atrial natriuretic peptide to the dopamine infusion further increased urinary sodium excretion and maintained creatinine clearance at the same level. In contrast to the infusion of dopamine alone, atrial natriuretic peptide markedly increased urinary protein excretion (77 versus 229 mg min−1 m2, P < 0.02). Furthermore, the addition of atrial natriuretic peptide elevated the urinary protein/creatinine ratio (1.55 versus 5.35, P < 0.05), while dopamine alone did not(1.55 versus 1.45, not significant).

3. In essential hypertensive patients, dopamine and dopamine plus ANP showed renal effects similar to those of chronic glomerulonephritis; however, the urinary excretion of protein was not changed significantly.

4. These results suggest that atrial natriuretic peptide may increase urinary protein excretion mainly by increasing the permeability of the damaged glomeruli to protein rather than by simply increasing urine flow or glomerular filtration. Possible mechanisms underlying the proteinuria-increasing effects of atrial natriuretic peptide are discussed.

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