Patients with advanced cirrhosis have abnormal sodium homoeostasis. The study was undertaken to quantify the sodium transport across the plasma membrane of red blood cells (RBC) in patients with cirrhosis. RBC efflux and influx of sodium were studied in vitro with tracer (22) Na(+) according to linear kinetics in 24 patients with cirrhosis and 14 healthy controls. The sodium efflux was modified by ouabain (O), furosemide (F) and a combination of O and F (O + F). RBC sodium was significantly decreased (4·6 versus control 6·3 mmol l(-1) , P<0·001) and directly related to serum sodium (r = 0·57, P<0·05). The RBC fractional sodium efflux was higher in patients with cirrhosis (+46%, P<0·01) compared to controls. Inhibition in both high (145 mmol l(-1) )- and low (120 mmol l(-1) )-sodium buffers showed that the F-insensitive sodium efflux was twice as high in cirrhosis as in controls (P = 0·03-0·007), especially the O-sensitive, F-insensitive efflux was increased (+ 225%, P = 0·01-0·006). Fractional F-sensitive transport was normal in cirrhosis. RBC sodium influx was largely normal in cirrhosis. In conclusion, RBC sodium content is reduced in patients with cirrhosis with a direct relation to serum sodium. Increased RBC sodium efflux is especially related to ouabain-sensitive, furosemide-insensitive transport and thus most likely due to upregulated activity of the sodium-potassium pump. The study gives no evidence to an altered intracellular/extracellular sodium ratio or to a reduced fractional furosemide-sensitive sodium transport in cirrhosis.
Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, 2016, Vol 36, Issue 5, p. 359-367