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Of Mice and Men—The Physiology, Psychology, and Pathology of Overhydration

Division of Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(7), 1539;
Received: 30 May 2019 / Revised: 28 June 2019 / Accepted: 3 July 2019 / Published: 7 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Intake, Body Water Regulation and Health)
The detrimental effects of dehydration, to both mental and physical health, are well-described. The potential adverse consequences of overhydration, however, are less understood. The difficulty for most humans to routinely ingest ≥2 liters (L)—or “eight glasses”—of water per day highlights the likely presence of an inhibitory neural circuit which limits the deleterious consequences of overdrinking in mammals but can be consciously overridden in humans. This review summarizes the existing data obtained from both animal (mostly rodent) and human studies regarding the physiology, psychology, and pathology of overhydration. The physiology section will highlight the molecular strength and significance of aquaporin-2 (AQP2) water channel downregulation, in response to chronic anti-diuretic hormone suppression. Absence of the anti-diuretic hormone, arginine vasopressin (AVP), facilitates copious free water urinary excretion (polyuria) in equal volumes to polydipsia to maintain plasma tonicity within normal physiological limits. The psychology section will highlight reasons why humans and rodents may volitionally overdrink, likely in response to anxiety or social isolation whereas polydipsia triggers mesolimbic reward pathways. Lastly, the potential acute (water intoxication) and chronic (urinary bladder distension, ureter dilation and hydronephrosis) pathologies associated with overhydration will be examined largely from the perspective of human case reports and early animal trials. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydration; dehydration; hypohydration; hyponatremia; polydipsia hydration; dehydration; hypohydration; hyponatremia; polydipsia
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hew-Butler, T.; Smith-Hale, V.; Pollard-McGrandy, A.; VanSumeren, M. Of Mice and Men—The Physiology, Psychology, and Pathology of Overhydration. Nutrients 2019, 11, 1539.

AMA Style

Hew-Butler T, Smith-Hale V, Pollard-McGrandy A, VanSumeren M. Of Mice and Men—The Physiology, Psychology, and Pathology of Overhydration. Nutrients. 2019; 11(7):1539.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hew-Butler, Tamara, Valerie Smith-Hale, Alyssa Pollard-McGrandy, and Matthew VanSumeren. 2019. "Of Mice and Men—The Physiology, Psychology, and Pathology of Overhydration" Nutrients 11, no. 7: 1539.

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