The effect of dietary sodium intake on angiotensin II (Ang II) receptor binding in the rat brain was studied using quantitative in vitro autoradiography. After 2 weeks of sodium deprivation, the peripheral angiotensin system was activated as shown by increased plasma renin activity (4-fold) and plasma aldosterone concentration (approximately 40-fold). At the same time, Ang II receptor binding in the adrenal glomerulosa zone increased by 40%. Frozen brain sections prepared from 12 male Sprague-Dawley rats (6 control, 6 sodium-deprived) were incubated with 125I [Sar1, He8] Ang II, exposed to X-ray film, and Ang II receptor binding in individual brain nuclei was quantitated by computerized densitometry. Ang II binding in the area postrema was significantly suppressed in the sodium-deprived rats (60% of control; p < 0.05). No change was observed in the other circumventricular organs studied, the subfomical organ or organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis. Ang II binding in the solitary tract nucleus was not affected by the dietary salt treatment. In the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, there was a small (9%) but significant (p < 0.001) increase in Ang II receptor binding in the sodium-deprived group. However, no change was observed in the hypothalamic median preoptic or suprachiasmatic nuclei, areas with similarly high Ang II receptor binding. These results suggest that only a limited subset of brain Ang II receptors respond to sodium deprivation and do so in a region-specific manner. These results support evidence that the central angiotensin system may contribute to the regulation of fluid and electrolyte homeostasis.

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