Relationships among endogenous digitalis-like factors in essential hypertension

J. M. Hamlyn, P. D. Levinson, R. Ringel, B. P. Hamilton, M. P. Blaustein, A. A. Kowarski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elements of a hypothesis that relate endogenous digitalis-like factors to both natriuretic hormone and hypertension are briefly reviewed. The stimulus for secretion of these factors appears to involve a tendency toward a state of extracellular fluid volume expansion as a consequence of an inherited or an acquired defect in renal function. Several studies implicate the brain and, in particular, the hypothalamus in the control of the secretion. The digitalis-like factors are thought to act by partial inhibition of active sodium transport, thereby promoting increased intracellular levels of Na+ and Ca2+ in a variety of cell types. In the kidney, inhibition of sodium transport leads to a compensatory natriuresis to correct the tendency for volume overload. In smooth muscle, the inhibition of sodium transport will indirectly increase intracellular calcium levels. The increased availability of Ca2+ will elevate muscle tone and increase peripheral vascular resistance. Also presented are criteria that may be used to characterize digitalis-like activity in samples and extracts obtained from purification procedures. Finally, we review our measurements of the 6-h integrated plasma levels of digitalis-like factors and other hormones for normotensive subjects and patients with essential hypertension. The data indicate the presence of two classes of digitalis-like factors with potentially different roles in electrolyte metabolism and hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2782-2788
Number of pages7
JournalFederation Proceedings
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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