Osmotic thirst and vasopressin release in humans: A double-blind crossover study

P. A. Phillips, B. J. Rolls, J. G.G. Ledingham

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Thirst is a subjective sensation. Therefore to investigate further the nature, intensity, and specificity of osmotic thirst, we studied the effects of double-blind infusions of hypertonic (0.45 M) and isotonic (0.15 M) saline on subjective ratings and sensations of thirst, water intake, plasma vasopressin, and body fluids in seven healthy volunteer young men. Only the hypertonic saline significantly increased plasma sodium concentration, plasma osmolality, plasma vasopressin concentration, and visual analog ratings of thirst sensations. Both infusions expanded blood volume, which was greater with the hypertonic saline infusion. Neither solution significantly altered mean arterial blood pressure nor plasma angiotensin levels. Throughout a 60-min drinking period after the infusions, water intake was always significantly greater after the hypertonic saline than after the isotonic saline. The subjects described the thirst sensations as mainly due to a dry unpleasant tasting mouth, which was promptly relieved by drinking. Visual analog rating changes confirmed the subjective reports. Finally, the effects on thirst and vasopressin secretion were observed at plasma sodium concentration and osmolality changes that are well within the physiological range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R645-R650
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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