Diabetes mellitus has been associated with both elevated plasma concentrations of the natriuretic and vasorelaxant hormone atrial natriuretic factor and with a reduced natriuretic response to this hormone. We now hypothesize that the vasodilator response to atrial natriuretic factor is attenuated in IDDM. Forearm vasodilator responses to the infusion of six increasing dosages of atrial natriuretic factor into the brachial artery were registered by venous occlusion strain gauge plethysmography in 10 patients with uncomplicated IDDM and in 10 age-, sex-, and weight-matched control subjects. Baseline levels of blood pressure, forearm blood flow, and plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic factor were not different between control subjects and patients with diabetes. In control subjects, atrial natriuretic factor induced a percentage fall in the forearm vascular resistance of –29 ± 5% at the lowest to –72 ± 4% at the highest infusion rate. In patients with diabetes this fall was significantly attenuated, measuring –2 ± 7 and –45 ± 4%, respectively, (P < 0.001 vs. control subjects). During infusion of atrial natriuretic factor into the brachial artery, the calculated regional production of cGMP (second messenger of atrial natriuretic factor) increased from 1.2 ± 1.1 to 22.8 ± 4.8 pmol.min−1 × 100 ml−1 in the control subjects, whereas hardly any change occurred in the patients with diabetes (from –2.1 ± 1.2 to 2.9 ± 4.7 pmol.min−1 · 100 ml−1). Furthermore, both control and diabetic subjects demonstrated an equal forearm vasodilator response to increasing infusion rates of the control vasodilator sodium nitroprusside. We conclude that uncomplicated IDDM is associated with a specific reduction in the vascular responsiveness to atrial natriuretic factor.

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