Arginine vasopressin (AVP) is a major antidiuretic hormone, the overproduction of which causes diluting hyponatremia in humans and is called the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuresis (SIAD). To study physiological changes resulting from AVP overproduction and to develop an animal model of hyponatremia, the human AVP gene was expressed under the control of the metallothionein promoter in transgenic (Tg) rats. Analyses of AVP immunoreactivity (irAVP) in the tissues revealed that the transgene is expressed mainly in the central nervous system. Gel filtration showed that irAVP in the brain and plasma was properly processed AVP. AVP purified from the brains of both Tg and control rats also exerted equal bioactivity to generate cAMP in LLC-PK1 cells. The founder rats did not show any physical or anatomical abnormalities. Under basal conditions, Tg rats had high plasma AVP levels (Tg 13.8 +/- 2.5 pg/ml; control 2.7 +/- 1.2 pg/ml; n=6 in both groups; means +/- S.E.M.), decreased urine volume, and normal plasma [Na(+)]. Hypertonic saline injected i.p. did not affect AVP secretion in Tg rats. In response to a zinc-supplemented liquid diet, plasma AVP decreased in control rats, but increased in Tg rats (Tg 32.7 +/- 2.7 pg/ml; control 1.0+/-0.1 pg/ml; n=6), resulting in hyponatremia (Tg 135.2 +/- 2.5 mEq/l; control 140.8 +/- 0.4 mEq/l; n=6). To our knowledge, this is the first transgenic animal to show diluting hyponatremia. This transgenic rat may therefore provide a useful model in which to investigate various physiological alterations resulting from the oversecretion of AVP which involve SIAD, stress response, behavior, and blood pressure.
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