1. In the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone, hyponatraemia is associated with a normal bicarbonate concentration despite dilution. This normal bicarbonate concentration is related to the development of a hyperaldosteronism, which is attributed to a direct stimulation of the zona glomerulosa by the hyponatraemic state. Some workers have suggested that, to develop this hyperaldosteronism requires the presence of a pituitary factor. To determine whether the pituitary gland plays a role in this hyponatraemia-induced hyperaldosteronism, water intoxication was performed for 24 h in normal and in panhypopituitaric rats.

2. In normal rats, hyponatraemia (108 mmol/l), induced by the administration of 1-desamino-8-D-arginine vasopressin and 2.5% D-glucose-0.45% NaCl by gavage (15% body weight) was associated with a mild increase in bicarbonate concentration, and blood acid-base equilibrium showed a mixed metabolic and respiratory alkalosis (pH 7.57, partial pressure of CO2 29 mmHg, base excess + 5.5 mmol/l), and aldosterone concentration was increased 3-fold as compared with the control value. When hyponatraemia (110 mmol/l) was induced in a similar manner in panhypopituitaric rats, we observed a very low aldosterone concentration (< 50 pg/ml) and a compensated respiratory alkalosis (pH 7.45, partial pressure of CO2 30 mmHg, base excess −2.6 mmol/l). The restoration of a hyperaldosteronaemic state in this group of rats was related essentially to corticosteroid intake.

3. These data suggest that corticosteroids play a critical role in the development of hyponatraemia-related hyperaldosteronism, a phenomenon not necessarily dependent on a pituitary factor.

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