Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Frederick J. Kozub

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth A. Blick

Third Advisor

Dr. Francis B. Leftwich


In the present study, two experiments were conducted to examine how the gerbil (Merinos Unguiculatus) responds to a chronic sodium deficiency. Adult male gerbils with a mean body weight of 79.81 grams, were maintained for a baseline period on a normal Purina Rat Chow and then they were placed on a salt-free diet. In addition they had ad lib access to a salt solution and water in a two bottle test situation. The saline concentration was cut in half and doubled to test for regulation. There was no significant overall increase in saline consumption (expressed as a percentage of total consumption), and the saline intake did not increase when concentration was cut in half nor decrease when concentration was doubled. However significant changes in absolute water intakes, food intakes and body weights did occur. Water intakes decreased as the concentration of saline decreased and water intakes increased with the increase in saline concentrations. Average food intakes decreased significantly in two of the three groups for the duration of the experimental manipulations. Average body weights decreased dramatically upon implementation of the diet but they slowly returned to baseline levels. A second group of animals was maintained on the sodium-free diet for 28 days. They were sacrificed at this time and their adrenal weights were compared to a control group's adrenal weights. There was no significant difference in adrenal weights between the two groups. It was postulated that the gerbil has a superior capacity for the retention of sodium and thus a severe deficit was not produced. Suggestions for future study were discussed.

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