Renal sodium reabsorption is a key determinant of final urine concentration. Our aim was to determine whether differences existed between aged and young rats in their response to water restriction with regard to the regulation of abundance of any of the major distal renal sodium transporter proteins. Male Fisher 344 x Brown Norway (F344 x BN) rats of 3-, 10-, 24-, or 31 months of age (3M, 10M, 24M, or 31M) were either water restricted (WR) for 5 days or control (ad libitum water). Major renal sodium transporters and channel subunits were evaluated by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Age did not significantly affect plasma arginine vasopressin or aldosterone levels, but renin activity was only 8% in 31M-WR rats relative to 3M-WR (P<0.05). Extreme aging (31M) led to decreased outer medullary abundance of the bumetanide-sensitive Na-K-2Cl cotransporter and decreased cortical abundance of the β- and γ-subunits (70-kDa band) of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) (P<0.05). Water restriction significantly (P<0.05) increased the abundance of Na-K-2Cl cotransporter (NKCC2) and Na-Cl cotransporter (NCC) across ages. However, these increases were significantly blunted as rats aged. Mean band densities were increased in WR rats (relative to age controls) by 54 and 106% at 3M, but only 25 and 29% at 24M and 0 and 6% at 31M for NKCC2 and NCC, respectively. Aged F344 x BN rats have reduced basal distal tubular renal sodium transporter abundances and blunted upregulation during water restriction, which may contribute to decreased urinary concentrating capacity.
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