Abnormalities of renal sodium handling in the metabolic syndrome. Results of the Olivetti Heart Study

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The mechanisms underlying high blood pressure in the framework of metabolic syndrome (MS) are not clarified: we thus analyzed the relationship of MS and its components to renal tubular sodium handling among participants of the Olivetti Heart Study, an epidemiological investigation of a representative sample of adult white male population in southern Italy.


Proximal (FPRNa) and distal (FDRNa) fractional sodium reabsorption were estimated by the clearance of exogenous lithium in 702 participants aged 25–75 years examined in 1994–1995. Blood pressure and relevant anthropometric and biochemical variables were also measured. The diagnosis of MS was based on modified National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)-Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) criteria.


FPRNa, but not FDRNa, was directly associated with body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, diastolic pressure, serum triglyceride and uric acid, independently of age and of antihypertensive treatment. After adjustment for age, FPRNa, but not FDRNa, was significantly greater in individuals with MS, as compared to those without [77.6% (95% confidence interval = 76.7–80.1) versus 74.4% (73.7–75.1), P < 0.001]. A similar difference was observed after the exclusion of participants on current antihypertensive treatment (P = 0.018). In untreated individuals, a significant interaction was observed between obesity and insulin resistance as related to FPRNa (P = 0.002): the highest age-adjusted levels of FPRNa were detected in obese hypertensive and obese insulin-resistant participants.


In this sample of an adult male population, MS was associated with an increased rate of FPRNa. This finding is relevant to the pathophysiology of MS and possibly to the prevention of its cardiovascular and renal consequences.

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