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Sodium balance is not just a renal affair

Titze, Jensa,b

Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension: March 2014 - Volume 23 - Issue 2 - p 101–105
doi: 10.1097/01.mnh.0000441151.55320.c3

Purpose of review The equilibration theory of extracellular body fluids is tightly linked to sodium (Na+) metabolism. It is accepted that with changes in salt intake, renal sodium elimination will prevent any change in interstitial Na+ content and concentration. This review summarizes recent anomalous findings regarding salt and water homeostasis that are inconsistent with current assumptions.

Recent findings Recent findings from chemical analysis studies of laboratory animals, as well as noninvasive quantitative Na+ MRI (Na-MRI) studies in patients, have shown that remarkable amounts of Na+ are stored in muscle and in skin without commensurate water retention. Furthermore, an ultra-long Na+ balance study in humans suggests the presence of endogenous clocks that generate weekly and monthly infradian rhythmicity of Na+ storage independent of salt intake. Animal experiments suggest that fluids in the skin interstitium are hypertonic compared with plasma, and that interstitial osmotic stress induces local extrarenal immune cell and lymph–capillary driven mechanisms for electrolyte clearance and maintenance of the internal environment.

Summary Recent quantitative evidence challenges current ideas on salt and water homeostasis, and suggests that Na+ homeostasis cannot be maintained without additional previously unappreciated extrarenal regulatory mechanisms.

aInterdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research and Department of Nephrology and Hypertension, Friedrich-Alexander-University, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany

bDivision of Clinical Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Correspondence to Jens Titze, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville 37235, USA. Tel: +1 615 875 3049; fax: +1 615 875 3297; e-mail:

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