Regulation of Body Fluid and Salt Homeostasis - from Observations in Space to New Concepts on Earth
The present manuscript summarizes recent discoveries that were made by studying salt and fluid homeostasis in weightlessness. These data indicate that 1. atrial natriuretic peptide appears not to play an important role in natriuresis in physiology, 2. the distribution of body fluids appears to be tightly coupled with hunger and thirst regulation, 3. intrathoracic pressure may be an important co-regulator of body fluid homeostasis, 4. a so far unknown low-affinity, high capacity osmotically inactive sodium storage mechanism appears to be present in humans that is acting through sodium/hydrogen exchange on glycosaminoglycans and might explain the pathophysiology, e.g., of salt sensitive hypertension. The surprising and unexpected data underline that weightlessness is an excellent tool to investigate the physiology of our human body: If we knew it, we should be able to predict changes that occur when gravity is absent. But, as data from space demonstrate, we do not.
Keywords: microgravity, salt homeostasis, sodium, hunger, thirst, cyclic gmp, natriuretic peptides, glycosaminoglycans
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