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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Atrial natriuretic factor and liver disease.

A working formulation for the role of ANF in the sodium retention of cirrhosis is summarized in Figure 4. Sodium retention is initiated early in cirrhosis, either as a result of hepatic venous outflow block or of primary vasodilation. The consequent intravascular volume expansion causes increases in ANF levels. At this stage of disease, the rise in ANF level is sufficient to counterbalance the antinatriuretic influences. However, this occurs at the expense of an expanded intravascular volume with the potential for overflow ascites. With progression of disease, disruption of intrasinusoidal Starling forces and loss of volume from the vascular compartment into the peritoneal compartment occur. This underfilling of the circulation may attenuate further increases in plasma ANF and promotes the activation of antinatriuretic factors. At this later stage of disease, elevated levels of ANF are insufficient to counterbalance antinatriuretic influences. Thus the role of ANF in cirrhosis is primarily beneficial in that it successfully attenuates the antinatriuretic forces in the compensated stage. Raised ANF levels have two potential deleterious effects. First, ANF may exacerbate arterial vasodilation, leading to further sodium retention. The primacy of vasodilatation has been proposed as an alternate formulation to the overflow and underfill hypotheses. Second, Epstein et al. found higher basal ANF levels in cirrhotic patients with edema than in those patients without edema. ANF is known to reduce plasma volume in anephric animals and to increase the ultrafiltration coefficients of isolated capillaries. Therefore it is conceivable that in the clinical setting in which antinatriuretic factors limit the renal responsiveness to ANF but in which ANF levels are elevated (i.e., cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, primary kidney disease), ANF itself may contribute to edema formation at the level of the peripheral microcirculation. In general, ANF likely has no primary role in the sodium retention in cirrhosis. In early compensated cirrhosis, ANF may maintain sodium homeostasis despite the presence of mild antinatriuretic factors. In late ascitic cirrhosis renal resistance to ANF develops, rendering it ineffective.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Atrial natriuretic factor and liver disease. Warner, L., Skorecki, K., Blendis, L.M., Epstein, M. Hepatology (1993) [Pubmed]
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