Journal of Applied Physiology


Glycerol ingestion has been shown to mediate hyperhydration; however, the mechanism(s) responsible for this improved fluid retention is not well understood. This study examined the hormonal, renal, and vascular fluid responses to glycerol hyperhydration in 11 resting male volunteers who ingested one of two experimental solutions and then a water bolus. The volume of fluid ingested was determined from the subjects' measured total body water (TBW; total volume = 37 ml/l TBW, 1,765 +/- 162 ml). Experimental solutions (5.0 ml/l TBW) were matched for color and taste and differed only in that one contained 1.5 g glycerol/l TBW (total osmolar load = 777 +/- 24 mosmol). Nine of the 11 subjects also completed a control trial during which no fluid was ingested. Glycerol ingestion (GI) resulted in greater fluid retention than the ingestion of water alone (WI; 60 vs. 32% 3-h posthyperhydration, P < 0.01). This improved fluid retention with GI resulted from lower urine flow rates (peak 6.2 vs. 10.5 ml/min, P < 0.01) associated with lower free water clearance rates (peak = 1.2 vs. 8.2 ml/min, P < 0.01). Hyperhydration had no effect on plasma atrial natriuretic peptide concentrations. Changes in plasma aldosterone were unrelated to differences in fluid retention. Antidiuretic hormone concentrations (ADH) were significantly reduced from prehyperhydration levels during both hyperhydration trials but tended (P = 0.07) to rise during GI compared with WI at the very time urine flow and free water clearance differences were also evident. This suggests that ADH may, in part, be responsible for glycerol's effectiveness, although differences in ADH concentrations were small and near the assay's sensitivity limits. Alternatively, glycerol's effectiveness may result from its directly increasing the kidneys' medullary concentration gradient and, hence, water reabsorption.