The flow rate of tubular fluid has been suggested as one of several factors which may influence potassium transport in the distal convoluted tubule of the kidney. In the present micropuncture studies, the relation between the flow rate of distal tubular fluid and potassium transport was examined in 4 groups of rats. Three groups of rats (I, II, and IV) were fed normal rat chow before study whereas one group (III) was fed chow containing 10% KCl. Group II received 10-20 μg/kg per hr of d aldosterone throughout the study. Distal tubular potassium transport in groups I, II, and III was examined before and after an increase in the flow rate of distal tubular fluid as induced by the infusion of an isotonic saline bicarbonate solution equivalent to 10% of body weight. In group IV, distal tubular potassium transport was examined before and after enhancement of the flow rate by the infusion of hypertonic (15%) mannitol. In all 4 groups, distal tubular potassium secretion increased as the flow rate of tubular fluid increased. The nature of the relation between distal tubular potassium transport and tubular fluid flow rate, however, was influenced by the extent to which the tubular fluid to plasma potassium ratio in the late distal tubule varied as the flow rate increased. As the flow rate was increased this ratio decreased significantly and to a comparable extent in groups I and II. In groups III and IV, on the other hand, this ratio was essentially identical during hydropenia and after the increase in the flow rate of tubular fluid. As a result, the increment in the amount of potassium present at the late distal tubule, which occurred as the flow rate increased, was significantly greater in groups III and IV than in groups I and II. The contrast in the relation between the flow rate of distal tubular fluid and potassium transport which was observed probably reflects differences in the net driving force for cell to lumen potassium movement. Seemingly, the net driving force for potassium movement was maintained, as the flow rate of tubular fluid increased, by chronic potassium loading in group III and by hypertonic mannitol infusion in group IV. In groups I and II, the net driving force for potassium movement decreased as the flow rate of tubular fluid increased. However, the net driving force did not decrease in proportion to the increase in flow rate since potassium secretion was increased by increments in flow rate in these groups as well. The results are consistent with the view that the flow rate of tubular fluid is a factor which can affect distal tubular potassium transport. However, the nature of the relation between the flow rate of tubular fluid and potassium transport appears to depend upon the degree to which the driving force for cell to lumen potassium movement changes as the flow rate is varied.
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