We employed a novel immunoradiometric assay to measure plasma levels of active renin and prorenin in physiologic and pharmacologic studies designed to characterize renin biosynthesis and processing in response to both chronic and acute stimuli of renin secretion in normal human subjects. Stimulation of renin secretion with prolonged dietary sodium restriction or amiloride resulted in marked increases in the plasma levels of prorenin, active renin, and plasma renin activity (PRA); suppression of renin secretion with indomethacin resulted in parallel decreases in prorenin, active renin, and PRA. In contrast, acute stimulation with upright activity or administration of an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, which increased active renin and PRA from 2- to 15-fold, had no effect on prorenin levels. Based on studies in cultured human juxtaglomerular tumor cells, it has been proposed that prorenin is secreted constitutively whereas active renin is stored in and released from secretory granules through a regulated pathway. Our studies are consistent with such a model: the parallel changes in active renin and prorenin with experimental maneuvers of long duration suggest that both the constitutive and regulated pathways are altered under these conditions. The increase in active renin levels in the absence of a change in prorenin that occurs in response to acute stimuli presumably represents the release of preformed active enzyme that is stored in secretory granules.
E B Toffelmire, K Slater, P Corvol, J Menard, M Schambelan