Consequences and therapy of the metabolic acidosis of chronic kidney disease

Pediatr Nephrol. 2011 Jan;26(1):19-28. doi: 10.1007/s00467-010-1564-4. Epub 2010 Jun 5.


Metabolic acidosis is common in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), particularly once the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) falls below 25 ml/min/1.73 m(2). It is usually mild to moderate in magnitude with the serum bicarbonate concentration ([HCO(3)(-)]) ranging from 12 to 23 mEq/l. Even so, it can have substantial adverse effects, including development or exacerbation of bone disease, growth retardation in children, increased muscle degradation with muscle wasting, reduced albumin synthesis with a predisposition to hypoalbuminemia, resistance to the effects of insulin with impaired glucose tolerance, acceleration of the progression of CKD, stimulation of inflammation, and augmentation of β(2)-microglobulin production. Also, its presence is associated with increased mortality. The administration of base to patients prior to or after initiation of dialysis leads to improvement in many of these adverse effects. The present recommendation by the National Kidney Foundation Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (NKF KDOQI) is to raise serum [HCO(3)(-)] to ≥ 22 mEq/l, whereas Caring for Australians with Renal Impairment (CARI) recommends raising serum [HCO(3)(-)] to >22 mEq/l. Base administration can potentially contribute to volume overload and exacerbation of hypertension as well as to metastatic calcium precipitation in tissues. However, sodium retention is less when given as sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride intake is concomitantly restricted. Results from various studies suggest that enhanced metastatic calcification is unlikely with the pH values achieved during conservative base administration, but the clinician should be careful not to raise serum [HCO(3)(-)] to values outside the normal range.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / complications*
  • Acidosis / drug therapy
  • Acidosis / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Bicarbonates / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*


  • Bicarbonates