Osmoregulation in Polycystic Kidney Disease: Relationship with Cystogenesis and Hypertension

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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a group of monogenetic conditions characterised by the progressive accumulation of multiple renal cysts and hypertension. One of the earliest features of PKD is a reduction in urinary concentrating capacity that impairs extracellular fluid conservation. Urinary concentrating impairment predisposes PKD patients to periods of hypohydration when fluid loss is not adequately compensated by fluid intake. The hypohydrated state provides a blood hyperosmotic stimulus for vasopressin release to minimise further water loss. However, over-activation of renal V2 receptors contributes to cyst expansion. Although suppressing vasopressin release with high water intake has been shown to impair disease progression in rodent models, whether this approach is efficacious in patients remains uncertain. The neural osmoregulatory pathway that controls vasopressin secretion also exerts a stimulatory action on vasomotor sympathetic activity and blood pressure during dehydration. Recurrent dehydration leads to a worsening of hypertension in rodents and cross-sectional data suggests that reduced urinary concentrating ability may contribute to hypertension development in the clinical PKD population. Experimental studies are required to evaluate this hypothesis and to determine the underlying mechanism.

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