Mannitol is an osmotic diuretic that is metabolically inert in humans and occurs naturally, as a sugar or sugar alcohol, in fruits and vegetables. Mannitol elevates blood plasma osmolality, resulting in enhanced flow of water from tissues, including the brain and cerebrospinal fluid, into interstitial fluid and plasma. As a result, cerebral edema, elevated intracranial pressure, and cerebrospinal fluid volume and pressure may be reduced. As a diurectic mannitol induces diuresis because it is not reabsorbed in the renal tubule, thereby increasing the osmolality of the glomerular filtrate, facilitating excretion of water, and inhibiting the renal tubular reabsorption of sodium, chloride, and other solutes. Mannitol promotes the urinary excretion of toxic materials and protects against nephrotoxicity by preventing the concentration of toxic substances in the tubular fluid. As an Antiglaucoma agent mannitol levates blood plasma osmolarity, resulting in enhanced flow of water from the eye into plasma and a consequent reduction in intraocular pressure. As a renal function diagnostic aid mannitol is freely filtered by the glomeruli with less than 10% tubular reabsorption. Therefore, its urinary excretion rate may serve as a measurement of glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
Chemically, mannitol is an alcohol and a sugar, or a polyol; it is similar to xylitol or sorbitol. However, mannitol has a tendency to lose a hydrogen ion in aqueous solutions, which causes the solution to become acidic. For this reason, it is not uncommon to add a substance to adjust its pH, such as sodium bicarbonate. Mannitol is commonly used to increase urine production (diuretic). It is also used to treat or prevent medical conditions that are caused by an increase in body fluids/water (e.g., cerebral edema, glaucoma, kidney failure). Mannitol is frequently given along with other diuretics (e.g., furosemide, chlorothiazide) and/or IV fluid replacement.
Mannitol is metabolized only slightly, if at all, to glycogen in the liver.
LD50=1700 mg/kg (rat oral)