1. Several observations support the hypothesis that in rats of the Milan hypertensive strain elevated levels of a circulating ouabain-like factor might normalize the elevated Na+ reabsorption, but, on the other hand, might contribute to the development of hypertension.
2. As the receptor occupancy of this endogenous factor seems to be reversible, the aim of our study was to test, in vitro, the hypothesis of its presence in isolated kidneys from Milan hypertensive rats by studying the response to exogenous ouabain before and after prolonged washing.
3. The kidneys were isolated from adult Milan hypertensive rats and from age-matched normotensive controls and ouabain was given at two different experimental time intervals: shortly (15 min) after washout or after a further 60 min of washout (75 min in total). Comparative experiments with the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide were performed using the same protocol.
4. Ouabain given after 15 min of perfusion caused an increase in renal vascular resistance, diuresis and natriuresis; these haemodynamic and tubular responses were similar in kidneys from both Milan hypertensive and Milan normotensive rats. If given after the washout period, ouabain caused a comparable increase in renal vascular resistance, but a significantly greater natriuresis in kidneys from Milan hypertensive rats as compared with kidneys from Milan normotensive rats. On the other hand, hydrochlorothiazide caused similar natriuresis in kidneys from both strains after washout.
5. These results support the hypothesis that a factor, capable of interacting with the ouabain receptor on the Na+/K+−ATPase of tubular cells, is present in the kidney of adult Milan hypertensive rats and that it can be removed by prolonged washout.