Salt appetite, body sodium, handling of a NaCl load, plasma renin activity (PRA), and plasma aldosterone concentration (PAC) were compared in New Zealand genetically hypertensive (GH) and Japanese spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs) and their respective normotensive controls [normal Wistar (N) and Wistar-Kyoto (WKY) rats]. Salt appetite was increased in SHRs compared with GH, N, and WKY rats when rats were on salt-free chow and given a choice of distilled water and NaCl solution. Body sodium, measured by whole body counting, was higher in SHRs than in the other strains but did not differ among GH, N, and WKY rats. The rate of excretion of a NaCl load was not increased in GH rats and was slightly increased in SHRs only when on a very low NaCl intake. PRA and PAC (radioimmunoassay) were lower in SHRs than in GH, N, and WKY rats. PAC had a significant negative correlation with body sodium across the four strains. There is no evidence of any abnormality in sodium regulation in GH rats. However, the SHRs have an increased salt appetite and an increased body sodium even when sodium intake is limited; PRA and PAC appear to have responded appropriately to the increased body sodium.
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