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Am J Physiol. 1987 Jan;252(1 Pt 2):F122-30.

Mechanism of potassium depletion during chronic metabolic acidosis in the rat.


Pair-fed rats on a normal K diet were given either 1.5% NH4Cl or water for 4 days. The acid-fed animals developed metabolic acidosis, negative K balance, and K depletion. Urinary Na excretion and urinary flow were not different between the groups beyond the first day. After the 4 days, isolated kidneys from animals in each of these groups were perfused at normal pH and bicarbonate concentrations. Urinary K excretion was similar between the groups despite the potassium depletion in the acid-fed animals. In contrast, isolated kidneys from animals with comparable K depletion induced by dietary K restriction readily conserved K (fractional excretion 0.35 +/- 0.04 vs. 0.83 +/- 0.09 by the kidneys from acid-fed animals, P less than 0.01). Sodium excretion and urinary flow were similar among the three groups of isolated kidneys. Plasma aldosterone concentrations were greater in the acid-fed rats after the 4 days of NH4Cl ingestion than in the control animals (43 +/- 10 vs. 10 +/- 2 ng/dl, P less than 0.01). Adrenalectomized rats were treated with either normal (4 micrograms/day) or high (22 micrograms/day) aldosterone replacement while ingesting NH4Cl for 4 days. Only in the presence of high aldosterone replacement did the acid-fed adrenalectomized animals develop K depletion. We conclude that chronic metabolic acidosis stimulates aldosterone secretion, and that aldosterone maintains the inappropriately high urinary potassium excretion and K depletion seen in this acid-base disorder.

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