Metabolic acidosis in maintenance dialysis patients: clinical considerations

Kidney Int Suppl. 2003 Dec;(88):S13-25. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1755.2003.08802.x.


Metabolic acidosis in maintenance dialysis patients: Clinical considerations. Metabolic acidosis is a common consequence of advanced chronic renal failure (CRF) and maintenance dialysis (MD) therapies are not infrequently unable to completely correct the base deficit. In MD patients, severe metabolic acidosis is associated with an increased relative risk for death. The chronic metabolic acidosis of the severity commonly encountered in patients with advanced CRF has two well-recognized major systemic consequences. First, metabolic acidosis induces net negative nitrogen and total body protein balance, which improves upon bicarbonate supplementation. The data suggest that metabolic acidosis is both catabolic and antianabolic. Emerging data also indicate that metabolic acidosis may be one of the triggers for chronic inflammation, which may in turn promote protein catabolism among MD patients. In contrast to these findings, metabolic acidosis may be associated with a decrease in hyperleptinemia associated with CRF. Several studies have shown that correction of metabolic acidosis among MD patients is associated with modest improvements in the nutritional status. Second, metabolic acidosis has several effects on bone, causing physicochemical dissolution of bone and cell-mediated bone resorption (inhibition of osteoblast and stimulation of osteoclast function). Metabolic acidosis is probably also associated with worsening of secondary hyperparathyroidism. Data on the effect of correction of metabolic acidosis on renal osteodystrophy, however, are limited. Preliminary evidence suggest that metabolic acidosis may play a role in beta2-microglobulin accumulation, as well as the hypertriglyceridemia seen in renal failure. Given the body of evidence pointing to the several systemic consequences of metabolic acidosis, a more aggressive approach to the correction of metabolic acidosis is proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / blood
  • Acidosis / complications
  • Acidosis / etiology*
  • Animals
  • Bone Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertriglyceridemia / etiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • beta 2-Microglobulin / blood


  • beta 2-Microglobulin