Observations were made on the relation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system and renal hemodynamic function to sodium balance in 43 pregnant dogs. Daily balance studies revealed that about 30-40% of ingested sodium was retained during the last half of pregnancy; during the same period, potassium balance was also positive but to a lesser extent. For groups of pregnant dogs, plasma renin activity (n = 14) and aldosterone secretion (n = 19) were significantly higher than normal; however, in some animals one or both functions were normal even though sodium retention was present. In contrast, plasma renin substrate concentration was consistently elevated during pregnancy in seven dogs. In a group of nine dogs in which both aldosterone secretion and plasma renin activity were measured, aldosterone secretion was elevated in the three dogs with the highest values for plasma renin activity; in two of the remaining six animals aldosterone secretion was elevated but plasma renin activity was normal or only slightly increased. The sequestration of sodium and water into the uterine contents was defined quantitatively in this study but evidence was lacking to support the idea that such changes led to renin release. The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was significantly elevated throughout pregnancy but a significant decrease from the high level of mid-pregnancy occurred during the last half of pregnancy; this decrease in GFR probably contributed to the sodium retention. Administration of a large dose of deoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA) to dogs in late pregnancy produced marked sodium retention but “escape” from the sodium-retaining steroid occurred. The data demonstrate that although increased activity of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system was frequently present during pregnancy, a normal rate of aldosterone secretion occurred. This finding and the observed “escape” from DOCA suggest the existence of sodium-retaining mechanisms other than the mechanism provided by a high plasma level of aldosterone.


Charles A. Robb, James O. Davis, J. Alan Johnson, Edward H. Blaine, Edward G. Schneider, John S. Baumber


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