The plasma aldosterone response to angiotensin II (10 ng/kg/min for 30 min, iv) under conditions of varied sodium intake was studied in 10 young subjects (20 to 35 years), 9 middle-aged (41 to 56 years) and 11 elderly (66 to 73 years) normotensive subjects. Basal plasma renin activity, basal plasma level and urinary excretion of aldosterone were significantly lower in the elderly than in the young and middle-aged groups on both 130 and 25 mEq sodium intakes. When sodium intake was reduced to 25 mEq for 3 days, the weight loss was significantly greater in the elderly than in the young and middle-aged groups. No significant differences in blood pressure and serum electrolytes were found between the three groups. Angiotensin II infusion caused significant increases in the mean blood pressure in all the three groups, but to a greater extent in the elderly group. Plasma aldosterone level and its absolute increment, but not its per cent increment, after angiotensin II infusion were significantly lower in the elderly than in the young and middle-aged groups. In combined young, middleaged and elderly subjects, the absolute plasma aldosterone increment correlated positively with basal plasma aldosterone and plasma renin activity levels on a 25 mEq sodium intake, and with plasma renin response to sodium restriction.
These results suggest that ageing may cause a lesser plasma aldosterone response to angiotensin II with a decrease in basal plasma aldosterone, in parallel with a decrease in plasma renin activity, under condition of low sodium diet.