Arginine Vasopressin and Its Role in Diabetes Insipidus

Arginine vasopressin is an essential hormone that influences the balance of fluids in the body. When this hormone is not functioning properly or is not handled by your kidneys adequately, the result can be diabetes insipidus.

"Arginine vasopressin (AVP), also known as vasopressin, argipressin or antidiuretic hormone (ADH), is a hormone found in most mammals, including humans" (1). AVP is a type of hormone that controls the reabsorption and release of water (urine) by the kidneys.

This ability to influence how much water is removed via urination or how much is retained via reabsorption greatly dictates the homeostasis of the body and more specifically the regulation of water in the blood.

AVP is made in the hypothalamus and then transported to the pituitary gland for storage until it is needed. If damage occurs to the pituitary gland due to head trauma, a tumor, neurosurgery or other reasons, the distribution of AVP can be reduced and this can lead to a serious health condition called diabetes insipidus.

Diabetes insipidus is a condition with distinct symptoms which include increased or excessive thirst and the increased or excessive urination.

Most cases of diabetes insipidus are caused by a problem in the production, storage or release of arginine vasopressin, but diabetes insipidus can also be caused by the kidneys not being able to properly respond to the hormone and as a result producing too much urine.

When the body is functioning normally, arginine vasopressin is secreted in proper amounts to regulate the body’s water levels. For instance, when the body is dehydrated, it is secreted which allow the kidneys to conserve water, thus reducing the amount eliminated by the body helping to keep the body hydrated.

When AVP is secreted in proper amounts it concentrates urine giving it a higher specific gravity and higher osmolality. In diabetes insipidus these factors are low and this is used as a way of determining if diabetes insipidus is present.

Arginine vasopressin is an important regulator of fluid amounts in your body. If you notice symptoms such as excessive thirst or excessive urination that may even result in accidental bedwetting or frequent trips to the bathroom during the night, then you should consult with your doctor. These symptoms could be signs of diabetes insipidus.

(1) Wikipedia (2010). Vasopressin. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antidiuretic_hormone

 

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