Renal sodium handling was studied in 23 children at three different stages of the minimal change nephrotic syndrome--the oedema forming state, proteinuric steady state, and remission. Clearances of inulin and para-aminohippuric acid and urinary sodium excretion were determined basally, after intravenous infusion of isotonic saline and hyperoncotic albumin, and after furosemide injection. Absolute and fractional basal sodium excretion were significantly lower in oedema forming patients than in proteinuric patients in steady state, and non-proteinuric patients. In contrast to proteinuric patients in steady state and non-proteinuric patients, the oedema forming patients failed to respond to isotonic saline infusion with increased sodium excretion. After diuretic blockade with furosemide, the fractional sodium excretion of the oedema forming patients increased to values no different from those of the non-proteinuric patients, whereas the fractional sodium excretion of the steady state patients increased to significantly higher values. The plasma aldosterone concentration was within normal limits in 11 of 14 proteinuric patients, and did not correlate with the basal sodium excretion. Thus, sodium retention in the minimal change nephrotic syndrome was found only in oedema forming patients, and since this is not related to the plasma aldosterone concentration it may be caused by an intrarenal mechanism, probably sited in distal parts of the nephron.
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