Relationship of renal ammonia production and potassium homeostasis

Kidney Int. 1977 Jun;11(6):453-65. doi: 10.1038/ki.1977.63.


Renal ammonia production appears to be intimately related to potassium homeostasis, and the two may comprise the components of a closed loop regulatory system. Studies with both intact organisms and in vitro systems indicate that potassium depletion stimulates and chronic potassium-loading suppresses renal ammonia production. An increase in ammoniagenesis has been shown to decrease potassium excretion. These observations suggest that changes in potassium modulate ammonia production, which in turn maintains hydrogen ion homeostasis and influences potassium excretion. Potassium depletion increases rat renal cortical ammonia production by altering metabolism in fashion identical to metabolic acidosis, but there is no convincing evidence that both processes are mediated by similar changes in either cellular hydrogen ion or potassium concentration. By contrast, potassium-loading, which depresses ammonia production, appears to affect primarily the outer medulla, a region that is not influenced by potassium depletion. Thus, potassium-loading apparently affects different portions of the renal tubule than depletion does, but the specific mechanism and physiologic significance of the different sites of action is unknown.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ammonia / metabolism*
  • Ammonia / urine
  • Animals
  • Dogs
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules / metabolism
  • Potassium / blood
  • Potassium / metabolism*
  • Potassium / urine
  • Rats
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Urine


  • Ammonia
  • Sodium
  • Potassium