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Pediatr Nephrol. 2007 Jul;22(7):915-25. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Potassium transport in the maturing kidney.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Nephrology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1664, New York, NY, 10029, USA.


The distal nephron and colon are the primary sites of regulation of potassium (K(+)) homeostasis, responsible for maintaining a zero balance in adults and net positive balance in growing infants and children. Distal nephron segments can either secrete or reabsorb K(+) depending on the metabolic needs of the organism. In the healthy adult kidney, K(+) secretion predominates over K(+) absorption. Baseline K(+) secretion occurs via the apical low-conductance secretory K(+) (SK) channel, whereas the maxi-K channel mediates flow-stimulated net urinary K(+) secretion. The K(+) retention characteristic of the neonatal kidney appears to be due not only to the absence of apical secretory K(+) channels in the distal nephron but also to a predominance of apical H-K-adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase), which presumably mediates K(+) absorption. Both luminal and peritubular factors regulate the balance between K(+) secretion and absorption. Perturbation in any of these factors can lead to K(+) imbalance. In turn, these factors may serve as effective targets for the treatment of both hyper-and hypokalemia. The purpose of this review is to present an overview of recent advances in our understanding of mechanisms of K(+) transport in the maturing kidney.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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