Treatment of the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone by urea

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      Recent data have shown the role of urea in the urinary concentrating mechanism. We studied the effects of exogenous urea administration in hyponatremia associated with the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone (SIADH). In 20 patients with SIADH, we observed a positive correlation between serum sodium and blood urea levels (r = 0.65; p < 0.01). In one patient with an oat cell carcinoma and SIADH-induced hyponatremia, we observed the same positive correlation (r = 0.80; p < 0.01) but also a negative one between the excreted fraction of filtered sodium and urinary urea (r = -0.67; p < 0.001). The short-term administration of low doses of urea (4 to 10 g) resulted in correcting the “salt-losing” tendency of this patient. Longer term administration of high doses of urea (30 g/day) was attempted with the same patient as well as with a healthy volunteer subject with Pitressin®-induced SIADH. In both patients, urea treatment lowered urinary sodium excretion as long as hyponatremia was significant (< 130 meq/liter). Urea treatment also induced a persistent osmotic diuresis, allowing a normal daily intake of water despite SIADH. This was clearly shown during the long-term treatment of a third patient with SIADH who was taking 30 g urea/day during 11 weeks.
      It is concluded that urea is a good alternative in the treatment of patients with SIADH who present with persistent hyponatremia despite the restriction of water intake.
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