Diversity of responses of renal cortical and medullary blood flow to vasoconstrictors in conscious rabbits


Roger G. Evans Dr Department of Physiology, PO Box 13F, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia.


The medullary microcirculation receives only about 10% of total renal blood flow, but plays a critical role in long-term arterial pressure regulation, so we need to better understand its regulation. Although there is evidence that circulating and locally acting hormones can differentially affect cortical and medullary blood flow in anaesthetized animals, there is little information from studies in conscious animals. This study is aimed (i) to develop a method for chronic measurement of cortical and medullary blood flow in conscious rabbits, and (ii) to test whether renal cortical and medullary blood flow can be differentially affected by intravenous (i.v.) infusions of various vasoconstrictor hormones in conscious rabbits. At preliminary operations, rabbits were equipped with single-fibre laser-Doppler flowprobes in the (left) renal cortex and medulla, and Transonic flowprobes for measuring cardiac output and renal blood flow. Intravenous angiotensin II (300 ng kg–1 min–1), [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]-vasopressin (30 ng kg–1 min–1), noradrenaline (300 ng kg–1 min–1), endothelin-1 (20 ng kg–1 min–1) and N G-nitro- L-arginine (10 mg kg–1) increased mean arterial pressure (by 10–45% of baseline) and reduced heart rate (by 16–35%) and cardiac output (by 16–45%). Consistent with previous observations in anaesthetized rabbits, all treatments except [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]-vasopressin reduced renal blood flow (13–63%) and cortical blood flow (16–47%), but medullary blood flow was significantly reduced only by [Phe2,Ile3,Orn8]-vasopressin (41%) and N G-nitro- L-arginine (42%). The diversity of these responses of cortical and medullary blood flow to i.v. infusions of vasoconstrictors provides further evidence for physiological roles of circulating and local hormones in the differential regulation of regional kidney blood flow.