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Potassium Adaptation After Reduction of Nephron Population

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Two weeks after 75 percent nephrectomy in rats fed a normal diet glomerular filtration rate was found to be reduced by 2/3 and there was no hyperkalemia. Normal K balance was maintained by a threefold increase of fractional urinary potassium excretion. When infused with 0.5 M KCl solution, both normal and 75 percent nephrectomized rats increased their fractional excretion, while normal rats kept on a very high K-diet did not further increase their fractional potassium excretion. Adaptation of fractional excretion to infused KCl was blunted in 75 percent nephrectomized rats given a low K diet. Addition of 0.1 M KCl to the drinking water resulted in a three- to fourfold increase of potassium intake in normal rats: within 7 days, the Na-K-ATPase in the outer medulla of the kidney rose by 30 percent but no change occurred in the cortex. Further increases in dietary K load induced an increase of Na-K-ATPase activity, both in outer medulla and cortex, but not in other tissues. After 75 percent nephrectomy, specific Na-K-ATPase activity increased by 20-25 percent in the outer medulla and in the cortex. Dietary K loading, in normal rats, also resulted in a large increase of net potassium secretion into the perfused colon and of specific Na-K-ATPase activity of the colonic mucosa. These effects of potassium loading were not abolished by adrenalectomy and were accompanied by an increase of transmural PD. It was concluded that chronic potassium loading may enhance secretion of potassium into lower nephron tubular fluid and into colonic contents by primarily stimulating the synthesis of Na-K-ATPase and the resulting increase of the number of pumping sites. 75 percent nephrectomy may induce similar changes in the remaining nephrons.

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