Renal regulation of acid-base balance

Nephrol Nurs J. Mar-Apr 2004;31(2):201-6; quiz 207-8.


Because maintaining a normal body pH is essential to the efficient functioning of many physiologic processes, the body has a number of mechanisms that prevent pH fluctuations. Some of these prevent minute-to-minute pH fluctuations over the course of the day, whereas others maintain pH balance from day to day. The kidney plays a key role in both processes. The renal process of bicarbonate reclamation prevents the loss of bicarbonate in the urine and, thus, maintains plasma levels of one substrate that is instrumental to preventing minute-to-minute pH fluctuations. The other renal process, bicarbonate regeneration, replenishes the body's supply of bicarbonate and, thus, maintains pH balance on a day-to-day basis. This article will discuss basic principles of acid-base physiology, the mechanisms that prevent fluctuations in body pH, and the renal processes involved in maintaining a homeostatic pH environment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium / physiology*
  • Bicarbonates / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology*


  • Bicarbonates