Plasma Renin Activity Related to Sodium Balance, Renal Function and Urinary Vasopressin in the Newborn Infant

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Plasma renin activity was determined in 25 healthy, full-term, newborn infants aged 1 day to 9 weeks. High values were found, the mean level at 1–2 days of life (24.8 ± 8.4 ng/ml/hr, SE) being significantly higher than the mean levels at 7–9 days (5.8 ± 1.5) and at 4–9 weeks (8.1 ± 1.3) (P < 0.05). No correlation was found between plasma renin activity and systolic blood pressure, hematocrit, creatinine clearance, serum sodium, or serum potassium. Plasma renin activity (log values) was inversely correlated with sodium intake (r = −0.58) or with urinary sodium (r = −0.44), and positively with urinary osmolality (r = 0.67). The correlations reached higher coefficients if only infants aged ≤ 9 days were considered.


In addition, vasopressin was measured by radioimmunoassay in the urine. The daily excretion was lower in newborn infants (9.4 ± 1.6 ng/m2/day, SE, at 1–2 days of postnatal life) than in healthy children (37.1 ± 5.6), and was significantly correlated with creatinine clearance (r = 0.69), but not with urinary osmolality.


The postnatal changes of plasma renin activity were significantly correlated only with parameters of sodium balance and with urinary osmolality, so that one can speculate that early after birth, the renin-angiotensin system plays a preponderant role not only in sodium homeostasis, but also in water balance.

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