Vasopressin (AVP) activates the epithelial Na+ channel (ENaC). The physiological significance of this activation is unknown. The current studies test if activation of ENaC contributes to AVP-sensitive urinary concentration. Consumption of a 3% NaCl solution induced hypernatremia and plasma hypertonicity in mice. Plasma [AVP] and urine osmolality increased in hypernatremic mice in an attempt to compensate for increases in plasma tonicity. ENaC activity was elevated in mice consuming 3% NaCl solution compared to mice consuming a diet enriched in Na+ with ad libitum tap water. The latter diet does not cause hypernatremia. To determine whether the increase in ENaC activity in mice consuming 3% NaCl solution served to compensate for hypernatremia, mice were treated with the ENaC inhibitor benzamil. Co-administration of benzamil with 3% NaCl solution decreased urinary osmolality and increased urine flow so that urinary Na+ excretion increased with no effect on urinary [Na+]. This decrease in urinary concentration further increased plasma [Na+], osmolality, and [AVP] in these already hypernatremic mice. Benzamil similarly compromised urinary concentration in water deprived mice and in mice treated with desmopressin. These results demonstrate that stimulation of ENaC by AVP plays a critical role in water homeostasis by facilitating urinary concentration, which can compensate for hypernatremia or exacerbate hyponatremia. The current findings are consistent with ENaC in addition to serving as a final effector of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and blood pressure homeostasis, also playing a key role in water homeostasis by regulating urine concentration and dilution of plasma.
View details for DOI 10.1152/ajprenal.00246.2014
View details for PubMedID 25391898