For 30 years it has been known that steroidal hormones of the adrenal cortex tend to promote sodium conservation by the kidneys. It is now believed that the most potent sodium-retaining hormone of the adrenal cortex is aldosterone.
It has been shown repeatedly that the ability of normal persons to conserve sodium in the face of sodium deprivation is dependent upon the secretion of relatively large quantities of aldosterone by the adrenals.1,2 Lack of ability to secrete aldosterone in the face of sodium deprivation explains the serious renal sodium wasting which is characteristic of patients with untreated Addison's disease. It has also been shown that the common disorders of the circulation which are accompanied by maximal tubular reabsorption of sodium and edema formation (e. g., cirrhosis, nephrosis, and congestive heart failure) are associated with increased secretion of aldosterone.
For the sake of perspective it should be emphasized that aldosterone