1. The present study was undertaken to test whether insulin acts as a pressor agent and causes hypertension in rats.
2. Insulin at doses of 10 or 100 units day−1 kg−1 was administered daily by subcutaneous injection to normal rats for 6 weeks. As it has been suggested that sodium retention plays a major role in the putative hypertensive activity of this hormone, insulin was also administered to saline- (1% NaCl) drinking rats according to the same protocol. Water- and saline-drinking rats served as controls.
3. After 6 weeks of insulin treatment, the mean arterial blood pressure did not increase in any of the insulin-treated or the insulin-salt-treated groups. However, in both insulin-salt-treated groups, absolute and relative ventricular and renal hypertrophy with increased ventricular water content as well as increased urine output with reduced osmolality were observed.
4. All insulin-treated groups showed increased plasma levels of glucose, insulin and antidiuretic hormone when compared with their respective controls.
5. These results demonstrate that chronic insulin treatment did not increase blood pressure in rats, even when drinking water was supplemented with NaCl, and suggest that a polyuria-polydipsia syndrome was present in both insulin-salt-treated groups. Moreover, increased plasma levels of antidiuretic hormone were observed in all insulin-treated groups.