1. The renin-angiotensin and kinin-kallikrein systems of Dahl salt-sensitive and salt-resistant rats fed diets with different salt contents were analysed using biochemical and immunocytochemical techniques.
2. Blood pressure increased by 45% in salt-sensitive rats only, after 4 weeks on a high-salt diet. The plasma renin activity and plasma angiotensin II concentration remained at the same levels in salt-sensitive rats on the high-salt diet as on the normal salt diet, whereas the plasma renin activity and plasma angiotensin II concentration of salt-resistant rats fed the high-salt diet were lower. The plasma renin activity and the plasma angiotensin II concentration were elevated in both salt-resistant and salt-sensitive rats fed the salt-deficient diet but were much more elevated in salt-resistant than in salt-sensitive rats.
3. The kidney immunocytochemical data paralleled the data on plasma parameters. Salt-sensitive rats had fewer renin positive juxtaglomerular apparatuses than salt-resistant rats on the normal diet, and the increase on the sodium-deficient diet was also smaller in salt-sensitive rats. Salt-sensitive rats fed the high-salt diet and the standard diet had almost no angiotensin II immunoreactivity compared with the salt-resistant rats on the same diets.
4. The total renal kallikrein content of salt-sensitive rats was lower than that of salt-resistant rats on all three diets, as was the amount of kallikrein excreted in the urine on the standard and the high-salt diets. The differences resulted from a reduction in active kallikrein. The increase in kallikrein in salt-sensitive and salt-resistant rats on the salt-deficient diet was not significantly different.
5. There were similar changes in immunopositive kallikrein in the kidneys of salt-sensitive and salt-resistant rats with diet, with a large increase in kallikrein biosynthesis on the low-salt diet. The plasma concentration of high-molecular-mass kininogen was not significantly different in salt-sensitive and salt-resistant rats, but there was a significant increase in T-kininogen in salt-sensitive rats fed the high-salt diet.
6. In conclusion, the absence of decreases in the plasma renin activity and the plasma angiotensin II concentration in salt-sensitive rats fed the high-salt diet might partially explain the increase in blood pressure.