To investigate factors regulating ammonia (NH3) production by isolated defined proximal tubule segments, we examined the rates of total NH3 (NH3 + NH+4) production by individual proximal tubule segments perfused in vitro under a variety of perfusion conditions. Segments consisting of late convoluted and early straight portions of superficial proximal tubules were incubated at 37 degrees C in Krebs-Ringer bicarbonate (KRB) buffer containing 0.5 mM L-glutamine and 1.0 mM sodium acetate, pH 7.4. The rate of total ammonia production was calculated from the rate of accumulation of total NH3 in the bath. The total ammonia production rate by unperfused proximal segments was 6.0 +/- 0.2 (+/- SE) pmol/mm per minute, which was significantly lower than segments perfused at a flow rate of 22.7 +/- 3.4 nl/min with KRB buffer (21.5 +/- 1.4 pmol/mm per minute; P less than 0.001) or with KRB buffer containing 0.5 mM L-glutamine (31.9 +/- 2.5; P less than 0.001). The rate of NH3 production was higher in segments perfused with glutamine than in segments perfused without glutamine (P less than 0.01). The perfusion-associated stimulation of NH3 production was characterized further. Analysis of collected luminal fluid samples revealed that the luminal fluid total NH3 leaving the distal end of the perfused proximal segment accounted for 91% of the increment in NH3 production observed with perfusion. Increasing the perfusion flow rate from 3.7 +/- 0.1 to 22.7 +/- 3.4 nl/min by raising the perfusion pressure resulted in an increased rate of total NH3 production in the presence or absence of perfusate glutamine (mean rise in rate of total NH3 production was 14.9 +/- 3.7 pmol/mm per minute in segments perfused with glutamine and 7.8 +/- 0.9 in those perfused without glutamine). In addition, increasing the perfusion flow rate at a constant perfusion pressure increased the rate of luminal output of NH3. Total NH3 production was not affected by reducing perfusate sodium concentration to 25 mM and adding 1.0 mM amiloride to the perfusate, a condition that was shown to inhibit proximal tubule fluid reabsorption. These observations demonstrate that the rate of total NH3 production by the mouse proximal tubule is accelerated by perfusion of the lumen of the segment, by the presence of glutamine in the perfusate, and by increased perfusion flow rates. The increased rate of NH3 production with perfusion seems not to depend upon normal rates of sodium reabsorption. The mechanism underlying the stimulation of NH3 production by luminal flow is unknown and requires further study.
G T Nagami, K Kurokawa