1. An intravenous infusion of 3 litres of sodium chloride solution (saline: 150 mmol/l) was given over 1 h to normal subjects.

2. During and immediately after the infusion, renal plasma flow increased in the majority of subjects, but the rise was not statistically significant. Significant increases in urine flow, sodium excretion, urinary kallikrein excretion and urinary excretion of dinor-6-keto prostaglandin (PG) F, a measure of systemic PGI2 synthesis, were noted. Plasma renin activity and plasma protein concentration were significantly lowered by the infusion.

3. At 2 h after the end of the infusion, although urine flow fell significantly, sodium excretion had not decreased. The reduction in plasma renin activity and plasma proteins persisted, and excretion of kallikrein and the PGI2 metabolite returned to control values.

4. Overall, urinary kallikrein excretion correlated significantly with urine flow and with sodium excretion. Peak kallikrein excretion occurred in the second 30 min of the infusion, and preceded maximal urine flow and sodium excretion.

5. The results suggest that increased systemic synthesis of PGI2 occurs in response to an acute infusion of sodium chloride, and may be an adaptive response of the vasculature to volume expansion. They support a role for the renal kallikrein-kinin system in the early diuretic and natriuretic response to saline infusion; the reduction in plasma renin activity and plasma protein concentration may be involved in both the early response and the persistent natriuresis 2 h after the infusion.

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