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Body Fluid Volume Regulation in Health and Disease: A Unifying Hypothesis

Robert W. Schrier, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Requests for Reprints: Robert W. Schrier, MD, C281, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262.

Current Author Address: Dr. Schrier: University of Colorado School of Medicine, C281, 4200 East Ninth Avenue, Denver, CO 80262.


© 1990 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1990;113(2):155-159. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-113-2-155
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In studies in experimental animals and in edematous patients, the nonosmotic release of vasopressin has been found to be consistently associated with activation of the sympathetic nervous and reninangiotensin-aldosterone systems. Moreover, the sympathetic nervous system is known to modulate the nonosmotic release of vasopressin and activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. These findings led to our proposal that body fluid volume regulation involves dynamic interaction between cardiac output and peripheral arterial resistance. In this context, neither total extracellular fluid volume nor total blood volume are determinants of renal sodium and water excretion. With a decrease in effective arterial blood volume (EABV) initiated by either decreased cardiac output or peripheral arterial vasodilation, the acute response involves vasoconstriction mediated by angiotensin, sympathetic mediators, and vasopressin. The renal vasoconstriction, which accompanies either decreased cardiac output or peripheral arterial vasodilation, causes a decreased distal tubular delivery of sodium and water, thus maximizing the water-retaining effect of vasopressin and impairing normal escape from the sodium-retaining effect of aldosterone. The elevated glomerular filtration rate and filtered sodium load seen in pregnant women allow increased distal sodium and water delivery despite a decrease in EABV, thus limiting edema formation during gestation.

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