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Nephron. 1992;62(3):332-9.

Renal involvement in leptospirosis: a pathophysiologic study.

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  • 1Laboratório de Pesquisa Básica da Unidade de Doenças Renais, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil.


The kidney involvement in leptospirosis appears to be a special form of acute renal failure due to a higher frequency of polyuric forms and the presence of hypokalemia with an elevated urinary fractional excretion of potassium. Using a clearance technique, we detected higher fractional urinary potassium excretion in leptospirotic guinea pigs (26.5 +/- 4.7%) than in normal animals (14.1 +/- 2.8%, p < 0.05). After blocking distal NaCl reabsorption with furosemide, it was observed that in leptospirotic animals both fractional sodium excretion (40.0 +/- 7.4%) and fractional potassium excretion (136.3 +/- 32.7%) were higher than in normal animals (20.4 +/- 3.8%, p < 0.05, and 43.6 +/- 9.0%, p < 0.05, respectively). Microperfusion studies showed that the normal and leptospirotic medullary thick ascending limb had both identical transepithelial potential difference (+3.7 +/- 0.4 vs. 3.9 +/- 0.2 mV) and relative sodium-to-chloride permeability. The same technique showed that the osmotic water permeability (Posm; 0.9 +/- 0.4 x 10(-5) cm/s.atm) and diffusional permeability (34.7 +/- 6.6 x 10(-5) cm/s) observed in the leptospirotic inner medullary collecting duct (IMCD) in the presence of vasopressin were unchanged, as was also the case for urea permeability (3.74 +/- 0.7 x 10(-5) cm/s). These data show that acute renal failure in leptospirosis is characterized by tubular changes leading to potassium secretion probably due to a decrease in proximal sodium reabsorption. Furthermore, the inability to concentrate urine evidenced by the low P(o)sm present in leptospirotic animals is due, at least in part, to IMCD resistance to vasopressin.

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