Altered water metabolism in tuberculosis: Role of vasopressin

A. Ross Hill, Jaime Uribarri, Jack Mann, Tomas Berl

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49 Scopus citations


purpose: Patients with hyponatremia due to tuberculosis have shown variable responses to water loading in previous small studies, ranging from persistent antidiuresis to a normal diuresis. Although tuberculosis is considered a cause of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH), circulating vasopressin has been documented in only a few cases. We studied a larger group of patients to determine whether it can be suppressed by a short-term reduction in osmolality. patients and methods: Twenty-eight hyponatremic patients (mean age ± SD: 40 ± 10 years) with pulmonary or military tuberculosis underwent a clinical evaluation, measurement of blood and urine chemistry values, and (in 22) a water load of 20 mL/kg. Volume status was evaluated by urine sodium concentration, blood and urine urea nitrogen, and plasma renin activity. Endocrine, renal, and other recognized causes of SIADH were excluded. results: All 22 patients exhibited a decline in urine osmolality and an increase in free water clearance after water loading. Water excretion was fully normal in seven of 22, with the remainder showing variable impairment of diluting ability and/or volume excreted. Plasma vasopressin, measured in 11 of 22 patients as well as in six others not subjected to water loading, was detectable despite hypo-osmolality in 16 of 17. Vasopressin levels declined after water loading, from 1.85 ± 1.32 to 0.77 ± 0.25 pg/mL (p <0.05). The majority of patients had the euthyroid sick syndrome but normal adrenal responses to cosyntropin. Although several patients had mild volume depletion when studied, this factor did not appear to explain the defect in water excretion. Hyponatremia resolved predictably within days to weeks of antituberculous therapy. conclusions: Circulating vasopressin remains detectable in hyponatremic patients with tuberculosis and is responsive to changes in osmolality. A downsetting of osmoregulation induced by active tuberculosis ("reset osmostat") could explain this abnormality, but we cannot exclude an unidentified non-osmotic stimulus that can be counteracted by water loading.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-364
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes


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