Gonadal steroids, salt-sensitivity and renal function

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Purpose of reviewThe aim of this article is to discuss the impact of male and female sex hormones on renal function and to develop the concept that salt-sensitivity of renal function behaves independently of the systemic blood pressure response to salt and may contribute to renal sex-specific differences.Recent findingsMen exhibit a more rapid age-related decline in renal function than women and some renal diseases are clearly sex dependent. Recent studies have shown that gonadal steroids have an important influence on sodium handling and renal hemodynamics that may offer a key for understanding the sexual dimorphism of the renal function. It has been found that androgens increase proximal sodium reabsorption and intraglomerular pressure by modulating afferent and efferent arteriolar tonus via angiotensin II, endothelin and oxidative stress. In contrast, female sex hormones lead to a renal vasodilation and decrease filtration fraction.SummarySome newly discovered mechanisms triggering the salt-sensitivity of the renal function and the interaction between gonadal steroids and components of the renin cascade may play an important role in the dimorphism of renal response to salt.

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