The activity of apical membrane Na channels in the rat cortical collecting tubule was studied during manipulation of the animals' mineralocorticoid status in vivo using a low-Na diet or the diuretic furosemide. Tubules were isolated and split open to expose the luminal membrane surface. Induction of Na channel activity was studied in cell-attached patches of the split tubules. No activity was observed with control animals on a normal diet. Channel activity could be induced by putting the animals on the low-Na diet for at least 48 h. The mean number of open channels per patch (NPo) was maximal after 1 wk on low Na. Channels were also induced within 3 h after injection of furosemide (20 mg/kg body wt per d). NPo was maximal 48 h after the first injection. In both cases, increases in NPo were primarily due to increases in the number of channels per patch (N) at a constant open probability (Po). With salt depletion or furosemide injection NPo is a saturable function of aldosterone concentration with half-maximal activity at approximately 8 nM. When animals were salt repleted after 1-2 wk of salt depletion, both plasma aldosterone and NPo fell markedly within 6 h. NPo continued to decrease over the next 14 h, while plasma aldosterone rebounded partially. Channel activity may be dissociated from aldosterone concentrations under conditions of salt repletion.

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