Phosphate metabolism in the setting of chronic kidney disease: significance and recommendations for treatment

Semin Dial. Jul-Aug 2007;20(4):286-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2007.00303.x.


Phosphorus is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in cell structure and metabolism. In living organisms, phosphorus exists surrounded by four oxygen atoms to form phosphate (PO(4)). Within cells, PO(4) regulates enzymatic activity and serves as an essential component of nucleic acids, adenosine triphosphate, and phospholipid membranes. Outside cells, PO(4) primarily resides in bone and teeth as hydroxyapatite. A small amount of inorganic PO(4) circulates in serum, with levels balanced by gastrointestinal intake, renal excretion, and a set of specific hormones. Under normal conditions, PO(4) is excreted through the kidneys. Among patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) receiving chronic dialysis, circulating PO(4) levels typically rise to levels well above the normal laboratory range. Higher serum PO(4) levels are strongly associated with arterial calcification and mortality in this setting. Among predialysis patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), phosphaturic hormones enhance renal PO(4) excretion to maintain serum PO(4) levels within the high-normal laboratory range. Recently, high-normal serum PO(4) levels have been associated with cardiovascular (CV) events and mortality among individuals who have CKD and among those who have normal kidney function. This review discusses PO(4) metabolism in the context of CKD, examines associations of PO(4) levels with adverse outcomes in the CKD setting, and suggests treatment strategies for moderating serum PO(4) levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Calcinosis / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Creatinine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Phosphate-Binding Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Phosphorus Metabolism Disorders / complications*
  • Phosphorus Metabolism Disorders / mortality
  • Phosphorus Metabolism Disorders / therapy*
  • Phosphorus, Dietary / metabolism*
  • Renal Dialysis*
  • Risk Factors


  • Chelating Agents
  • Phosphate-Binding Proteins
  • Phosphorus, Dietary
  • Creatinine