Numerous protein-bound solutes are cleared by the kidney with high efficiency

Kidney Int. 2013 Sep;84(3):585-90. doi: 10.1038/ki.2013.154. Epub 2013 May 1.


The kidney clears numerous solutes from the plasma; however, retention of these solutes causes uremic illness when the kidneys fail. We know remarkably little about which retained solutes are toxic and this limits our ability to improve dialysis therapies. To explore this, we employed untargeted mass spectrometry to identify solutes that are efficiently cleared by the kidney. High-resolution mass spectrometry detected 1808 features in the urine and plasma ultrafiltrate of 5 individuals with normal renal function. The estimated clearance rates of 1082 peaks were greater than the creatinine clearance indicating tubular secretion. Further analysis identified 90 features representing solutes with estimated clearance rates greater than the renal plasma flow. Quantitative mass spectrometry with stable isotope dilution confirmed that efficient clearance of these solutes is made possible by the combination of binding to plasma proteins and tubular secretion. Tandem mass spectrometry established the chemical identity of 13 solutes including hippuric acid, indoxyl sulfate, and p-cresol sulfate. These 13 efficiently cleared solutes were found to accumulate in the plasma of hemodialysis patients, with free levels rising to more than 20-fold normal for all but two of them. Thus, further analysis of solutes efficiently cleared by secretion in the native kidney may provide a potential route to the identification of uremic toxins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods*
  • Cresols / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hippurates / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Indican / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / therapy
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Binding
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters / metabolism*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry / methods*


  • Cresols
  • Hippurates
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters
  • 4-cresol sulfate
  • Indican
  • hippuric acid