Citrate therapy for polycystic kidney disease in rats

Kidney Int. 2000 Nov;58(5):1859-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1755.2000.00357.x.


Background: Few treatments are available to slow the progression to renal failure in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD). In an animal model of PKD, the male heterozygous Han:SPRD rat, intake of a solution of potassium citrate plus citric acid (KCitr) from age one to three months prevented a decline in glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The present study tested whether this beneficial effect is sustained and explored handling of citrate and ammonia in normal and cystic kidneys.

Methods: Rats were provided with tap water or citrate solutions to drink, and clearance and survival studies were performed.

Results: The GFRs of rats with PKD that consumed KCitr from one month of age were normal at six months of age, while those of their counterparts on water were about one third of normal. Long-term KCitr treatment extended the average life span of rats with PKD from 10 to 17 months. Compared with normal rats, water-drinking rats with PKD had higher plasma [citrate], renal cortical [citrate], and fractional excretion of citrate, and lower rates of renal citrate consumption, ammonia synthesis, and ammonia excretion. Cortical PNH3 was not elevated in cystic kidneys. Intake of Na3 citrate/citric acid solution or K3 citrate solution, but not ammonium citrate/citric acid solution, prevented a decline in GFR in three-month-old rats with PKD.

Conclusions: Rats with PKD show abnormal renal handling of citrate and ammonia. Citrate salts that have an alkalinizing effect preserve GFR and extend survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Citrates / metabolism
  • Citrates / therapeutic use*
  • Drinking
  • Electrolytes / metabolism
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / genetics
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / physiopathology
  • Potassium Citrate / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Mutant Strains
  • Solutions
  • Survival Analysis
  • Water


  • Citrates
  • Electrolytes
  • Solutions
  • Water
  • Ammonia
  • Potassium Citrate