Understanding the sequence of events responsible for pressure-related natriuresis and their pathophysiologic alterations may be useful in distinguishing various types of essential hypertension of renal origin. The perturbation of a distal step in the sequence is likely to be reflected in a simple physiologic defect. For instance, pathophysiologic alterations in the medullary production of prostaglandin E2 might directly influence natriuresis and diuresis because of its modulatory effect on tubular reabsorption of sodium and water. Perturbation of more proximal steps in the sequence could influence all the distal events as well. For instance, prostaglandin I2 and endothelium-derived relaxing factor may be produced by the preglomerular vasculature in response to alterations in renal perfusion pressure and may modulate the release of renin from the juxtaglomerular cells. Thus, variations in the production of prostaglandin I2 or endothelium-derived relaxing factor may be reflected by various renal vascular, tubular, and systemic homeostatic events related to the renin-angiotensin system.
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