Indian Journal of Nephrology About us |  Subscription |  e-Alerts  | Feedback | Login   
  Print this page Email this page   Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
 Home | Current Issue | Archives| Ahead of print | Search |Instructions |  Editorial Board  

Users Online:1262

Official publication of the Indian Society of Nephrology
 ~  Similar in PUBMED
 ~  Search Pubmed for
 ~  Search in Google Scholar for
 ~Related articles
 ~  Article in PDF (469 KB)
 ~  Citation Manager
 ~  Access Statistics
 ~  Reader Comments
 ~  Email Alert *
 ~  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Pathophysiology ...
   Clinical Present...
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded380    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal


  Table of Contents  
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 232-234

Reset osmostat: Facts and controversies

Department of Physiology, University Institute of Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires, Argentina

Date of Web Publication14-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
C G Musso
Department of Physiology, University Institute of Hospital Italiano De Buenos Aires, Potosí 4234, C1199ACL. Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijn.IJN_307_17

Rights and Permissions


Reset osmostat (RO) consists of a change in the normal plasma osmolality threshold (reduction or increase), which consequently induces chronic dysnatremia (hyponatremia or hypernatremia). Although the early papers on RO state that hyponatremic patients with this condition are usually not symptomatic, the current view is that most patients with hyponatremia are symptomatic and should be treated. RO has been associated with a myriad of clinical conditions and has clear diagnostic criteria which are crucial to arrive at the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Keywords: Hypernatremia, hyponatremia, reset osmostat

How to cite this article:
Feder J, Gomez J M, Serra-Aguirre F, Musso C G. Reset osmostat: Facts and controversies. Indian J Nephrol 2019;29:232-4

How to cite this URL:
Feder J, Gomez J M, Serra-Aguirre F, Musso C G. Reset osmostat: Facts and controversies. Indian J Nephrol [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Aug 10];29:232-4. Available from:

  Introduction Top

In 1976, a sort of hypoosmolar hypotonic hyponatremia (serum sodium <135 mmol/L and measured serum osmolality <280 mOsm/kg) was described, which was characterized by having a normal renal function but was extremely difficult to correct by neither free water restriction nor salt supplementation. This condition was described as a subtype of the syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (SIADH) secretion and was named “reset osmostat” (RO), and then classified as Type C SIADH.[1],[2] RO hyponatremia is currently considered a condition which has a low normal plasma osmolality threshold (usually 280 mOsm/kg), that induces an elevation of ADH at a lower plasma osmolarity with normal water load excretion and intact urine diluting ability while maintaining normal sodium balance.[1],[2],[3],[4]

  Pathophysiology and Causes Top

Hyponatremia occurs in up to a third of long-term care facility, and RO constitutes more than half of that number.[5] Several clinical situations can induce it, such as pregnancy, elderly, quadriplegia, psychosis, cerebral hemorrhage, encephalitis, dementia (Lewy bodies), alcoholism, malnutrition, malignancy (gastric, colonic, and oat cells carcinoma), and other debilitating diseases including infections such as tuberculosis and pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. It has been proposed that an alteration in the osmoreceptor cells metabolism could be responsible for the RO malfunction. Besides, the successful treatment of some of the above mentioned reversible conditions (e.g., pneumocystis pneumonia), usually corrects the RO hyponatremia.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9]

RO has been reported in pregnant women. In a regular pregnancy, the average plasma-osmolality is down by 5–10 mOsm/kg, and the serum sodium concentration is down by 4–5 mmol/L.[1],[2],[3],[4] The exact mechanism of why this occurs is not known, but the fetal-placental unit appears to be an absolute requirement. However, in one paper, the human chorionic gonadotropin (that is secreted by the placenta) has been seen as one of the factors responsible for the readjustment of the osmoregulatory system, but that was evidenced in molar pregnancies.[1],[2],[3],[4] Besides, hyponatremia has been documented in congenital RO associated with midline defects (cleft lip and palate), corpus callosum agenesis, and hypothalamic cyst.[3],[6],[10]

It is worth mentioning that RO has also been described in hypernatremic patients, a condition known as “essential hypernatremia” (EH). This entity should be suspected in those patients who present stable hypernatremia despite the variation in sodium and water intake, their kidneys conserve the ability to dilute and concentrate urine, but an increased fluid intake fails to normalize their plasma osmolality. EH is usually associated with hypothalamic-pituitary structural lesions or the absence of “posterior pituitary bright spot (PPBS)” on T1 imaging on magnetic resonance imaging. The PPBS is defined as a neurohypophyseal T1 hyperintense signal in the sella behind the adenohypophysis, which has been interpreted as proteins, phospholipid vesicles, or vasopressin hormone accumulation. The absence of PPBS has been associated with some diseases, such as craniopharyngioma, diabetes insipidus, and Langerhans cell histiocytosis.[5],[11],[12] The relation between the loss of the PPBS and EH leads to the hypothesis that this sort of hypernatremia could be secondary to ischemic (small vessels disease or stroke) or autoimmune damage in the thirst and osmoregulation centers.[11],[12]

  Clinical Presentation and Diagnosis Top

Early papers reported that this condition causes no symptoms, and it is usually an accidental discovery while studying other pathology, although one paper showed a psychomotor delay induced by hyponatremia considered to be caused by RO but this diagnosis was unclear.[5],[10] However, the current view is that most patients with hyponatremia are symptomatic and should be treated.[13],[14],[15],[16],[17]

RO can also be associated with other subtypes of SIADH (36%), and this situation can be suspected when despite treating SIADH adequately, serum sodium remains still low.[3],[5],[12] Besides, since RO hyponatremia is apparently asymptomatic, it should be distinguished from pseudohyponatremia, and hypertonic hyponatremia (hyperglycemia): RO runs with low, pseudohyponatremia with normal, and hypertonic hyponatremia with high plasma osmolality.[4] RO is classically suspected in patients who usually have asymptomatic and moderate-to-mild hyponatremia (125–134 mmol/L), which is stable over many days despite the variation in sodium and water intake, and serum sodium levels usually do not seem to respond to treatment.[1],[5],[10] A spontaneously excreted dilute urine, defined as a urine osmolality less than plasma osmolality, and normal (4%–11%) fractional excretion of uric acid (FEUA) are diagnostic of an RO.[7] Moreover, a normal FEUA value is an important indicator of RO regardless of urine osmolality or serum uric acid levels. Even though FEUA is also normal in psychogenic polydipsia, it can be differentiated from RO by the large intake of water that these patients have.[7] In addition, FEUA is usually high (>12%) in patients suffering from hyponatremia secondary to SIADH secretion and cerebral or preferably named “renal” salt wasting; while it is usually low (<4%) FEUA in hypervolemic hyponatremia: cardiac failure, cirrhosis, and nephrotic syndrome.[10],[11],[12]

However, the diagnosis of RO can only be definitively made by performing a water loading test. It consists of oral water load (10–15 ml/kg) to suppress vasopressin secretion, and if RO is present patients will excrete more than 80% of the water load within 4 h [Table 1].[4],[6],[7],[10]
Table 1: Reset osmostat diagnostic criteria

Click here to view

  Treatment Top

The treatment of RO and the other subtypes of SIADH is quite different,[5] since non-RO SIADH hyponatremia quickly responds to fluid restriction while the hyponatremia of RO do not.[9] In addition, RO does not respond to oral sodium supplementation nor fludrocortisone treatment.[3],[7],[9]

When RO occurs as a consequence of a reversible illness, the osmostat often resets to normal after recovering from it, but when RO etiology is irreversible or unknown (permanent hyponatremia), since RO hyponatremia is mild, does not progress under the osmolality at which the osmostat has been reset, and does not respond to different therapeutic options, RO hyponatremia is commonly not treated.[7],[9] However, the current tendency to treat even mild hyponatremia creates a therapeutic query that needs to be resolved. The utilization of the vaptan class of drugs has pathophysiologic advantages in RO but may also induce potential harm (overcorrection, liver toxicity), thus it needs further confirmation by prospective studies.[3],[16] Futures studies will hopefully solve this dilemma [Table 2].
Table 2: Reset osmostat hyponatremia response to different syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion treatments

Click here to view

  Conclusion Top

RO can be observed in a myriad of clinical conditions that can induce hyponatremia or hypernatremia. It is important to become proficient at understanding the diagnostic criteria and characteristics of this common clinical entity to improve clinical outcomes.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Harris K, Shankar R, Black K, Rochelson B. Reset osmostat in pregnancy: A case report. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2014;27:530-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
Berl T, Schrier R. Water homeostasis alterations. In: Schrier R, editor. Renal and Electrolytes Alterations. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2011. p. 1-85.  Back to cited text no. 2
Imbriano LJ, Ilamathi E, Ali NM, Miyawaki N, Maesaka JK. Normal fractional urate excretion identifies hyponatremic patients with reset osmostat. J Nephrol 2012;25:833-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Filippatos TD, Liamis G, Christopoulou F, Elisaf MS. Ten common pitfalls in the evaluation of patients with hyponatremia. Eur J Intern Med 2016;29:22-5.  Back to cited text no. 4
Rohana AG, Norasyikin AW, Suehazlyn Z, Ming W, Norlela S, Norazmi MK, et al. Acase of persistent hyponatraemia due to reset osmostat. Med J Malaysia 2006;61:638-40.  Back to cited text no. 5
Liamis GL, Milionis HJ, Rizos EC, Siamopoulos KC, Elisaf MS. Mechanisms of hyponatraemia in alcohol patients. Alcohol Alcohol 2000;35:612-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Imbriano LJ, Mattana J, Drakakis J, Maesaka JK. Identifying different causes of hyponatremia with fractional excretion of uric acid. Am J Med Sci 2016;352:385-90.  Back to cited text no. 7
Musso CG, Jauregui JR. Hyponatremia secondary to reset osmostat in a very old invividual: A case report and pathophysiologic roposal. Electron J Biomed 2016;3: 49-51  Back to cited text no. 8
Hoorn EJ, Swart RM, Westerink M, van den Dorpel MA, Berghout A, Bakker JJ, et al. Hyponatremia due to reset osmostat in dementia with lewy bodies. J Am Geriatr Soc 2008;56:567-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
Vale BM, Morais S, Mesquita J, Mimoso G. Reset osmostat: A rare cause of hyponatraemia. BMJ Case Rep 2015;2015. pii: bcr2013009111.  Back to cited text no. 10
Suneja M, Makki N, Kuppachi S. Essential hypernatremia: Evidence of reset osmostat in the absence of demonstrable hypothalamic lesions. Am J Med Sci 2014;347:341-2.  Back to cited text no. 11
Lee JJ, Kilonzo K, Nistico A, Yeates K. Management of hyponatremia. CMAJ 2014;186:E281-6.  Back to cited text no. 12
Schrier RW. Does ‘asymptomatic hyponatremia’ exist? Nat Rev Nephrol 2010;6:185.  Back to cited text no. 13
Decaux G. Is asymptomatic hyponatremia really asymptomatic? Am J Med 2006;119 7 Suppl 1:S79-82.  Back to cited text no. 14
Gankam Kengne F, Andres C, Sattar L, Melot C, Decaux G. Mild hyponatremia and risk of fracture in the ambulatory elderly. QJM 2008;101:583-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Renneboog B, Musch W, Vandemergel X, Manto MU, Decaux G. Mild chronic hyponatremia is associated with falls, unsteadiness, and attention deficits. Am J Med 2006;119:71.e1-8.  Back to cited text no. 16
Hoorn EJ, Zietse R. Diagnosis and treatment of hyponatremia: Compilation of the guidelines. J Am Soc Nephrol 2017;28:1340-9.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Differential diagnosis between syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion and cerebral/renal salt wasting syndrome in children over 1 year: proposal for a simple algorithm
Flaminia Bardanzellu, Maria Antonietta Marcialis, Roberta Frassetto, Alice Melis, Vassilios Fanos
Pediatric Nephrology. 2021;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Plasma sodium, extracellular fluid volume, and blood pressure in healthy men
Jacqueline J. J. O. N. Bosch, Niek R. Hessels, Folkert W. Visser, Jan A. Krikken, Stephan J. L. Bakker, Ineke J. Riphagen, Gerjan J. Navis
Physiological Reports. 2021; 9(24)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Drug-Resistant Hyponatremia after Escitalopram Intake: A Series of Two Case Reports
Justyna Kacperczyk, Adrian Perdyan, Malgorzata Stompór
Annals of Geriatric Medicine and Research. 2021; 25(3): 217
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Hyponatremia in the cancer patient
Biruh T. Workeneh, Kenar D. Jhaveri, Helbert Rondon-Berrios
Kidney International. 2020; 98(4): 870
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article


© Indian Journal of Nephrology
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 20th Sept '07