Prolonged exposure of tissues to a receptor agonist often leads to adaptive changes that limit the subsequent responsiveness of the tissue to the same agonist. Recently, we have generated rats transgenic for the metallothionein I-human arginine vasopressin (AVP) fusion gene (Tg), which produced high plasma AVP with relatively preserved renal water excretion, suggesting that there might be adaptive mechanism(s) for maintaining water and electrolyte homeostasis against chronic AVP oversecretion from the earliest stage of life. In this study, to investigate whether down-regulation of AVP V2 receptor (V2R), which could possibly be caused by long-standing high plasma AVP, participates in this adaptive mechanism(s), non-peptidic V2R antagonist OPC31260 was administered to reverse the down-regulation, and water loading was performed after V2R antagonist treatment had been withdrawn. Additionally, to confirm the down-regulation, Northern blotting analysis for V2R mRNA was carried out. Tg rats showed slightly decreased urine volume and water intake with an equivalent plasma [Na(+)] level (Tg 140.4 +/- 0.6 mEq/l; control 139.3 +/- 0.6 mEq/l) under basal conditions. After water loading using a liquid diet containing zinc, which stimulates the promoter region in the transgene, the urine increase showed only limited suppression with a dramatically increased plasma AVP level and mild hyponatremia (135.8 +/- 1.8 mEq/l) in Tg rats. When diet containing OPC31260 had been provided for 4 days until the day before the start of water loading, antidiuresis and hyponatremia (125.4 +/- 1.mEq/l) were significantly potentiated. V2R mRNA expression in kidney was significantly less in Tg rats than in control rats under basal conditions, and this suppression was restored by OPC31260 treatment to levels comparable with those of control rats. These results suggest that long-standing high plasma AVP causes V2R down-regulation, and it may play an important role in the adaptive mechanism(s) for maintaining water and electrolyte homeostasis in chronically AVP-overexpressing rats.
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