Alkaline phosphatase: a possible treatment for sepsis-associated acute kidney injury in critically ill patients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2014 Jun;63(6):1038-48. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2013.11.027. Epub 2014 Jan 22.


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common disease in the intensive care unit and accounts for high morbidity and mortality. Sepsis, the predominant cause of AKI in this setting, involves a complex pathogenesis in which renal inflammation and hypoxia are believed to play an important role. A new therapy should be aimed at targeting both these processes, and the enzyme alkaline phosphatase, with its dual mode of action, might be a promising candidate. First, alkaline phosphatase is able to reduce inflammation through dephosphorylation and thereby detoxification of endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide), which is an important mediator of sepsis. Second, adenosine triphosphate, released during cellular stress caused by inflammation and hypoxia, has detrimental effects but can be converted by alkaline phosphatase into adenosine with anti-inflammatory and tissue-protective effects. These postulated beneficial effects of alkaline phosphatase have been confirmed in animal experiments and two phase 2a clinical trials showing that kidney function improved in critically ill patients with sepsis-associated AKI. Because renal inflammation and hypoxia also are observed commonly in AKI induced by other causes, it would be of interest to investigate the therapeutic effect of alkaline phosphatase in these nephropathies as well.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; adenosine; alkaline phosphatase; biopharmaceutical; hypoxia; renal failure; renal inflammation; sepsis; systemic inflammation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / drug therapy*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Aged
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / pharmacology
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / therapeutic use*
  • Critical Illness
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology
  • Kidney / blood supply
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / physiology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Sepsis / complications*
  • Sepsis / physiopathology


  • Alkaline Phosphatase