The effect of sodium depletion on the conversion of corticosterone to aldosterone has been examined in vivo using the adrenal transplants of two sheep. [3H]Corticosterone was infused continuously directly into the adrenal gland via the carotid artery over a period of 30 min. and the total adrenal effluent was collected via the jugular vein in six consecutive 5-min. samples. The conversion of [3H]corticosterone to [3H]aldosterone and the endogenous output of aldosterone was measured in each sample using a double isotope derivative method and the specific activity of the aldosterone calculated. Radioactive conversion of B → aldosterone reached equilibrium within 10 min. of the start of infusion and remained constant over a period of 10–25 min. Aldosterone secretion was also constant during the first 25 min. of infusion.
In the same sheep the mean percentage conversion increased as aldosterone secretion rose over a range of 2–12 μg./hr. With more severe sodium depletion, i.e. with aldosterone secretion rates of 12–16 μg./hr., conversion decreased to that found in the sodium replete state. The specific activity of the aldosterone was constant throughout the mildly deplete range (2–12 μg./hr.) but fell with severe sodium depletion. In the sodium replete range (0–2 μg./hr.) before the introduction of a parotid fistula, the specific activity was the same as in the mildly deplete state. After the introduction of a parotid fistula the specific activity increased as the secretion decreased from 2 to 0 μg.
The validity of the approach and interpretation of the results in terms of the biosynthetic pathways involved are discussed.