Kidney-lung connections in acute and chronic diseases: current perspectives

J Nephrol. 2016 Jun;29(3):341-348. doi: 10.1007/s40620-016-0276-7. Epub 2016 Mar 3.


Lung and kidney functions are intimately related in both health and disease. The regulation of acid-base equilibrium, modification of partial pressure of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate concentration, and the control of blood pressure and fluid homeostasis all closely depend on renal and pulmonary activities. These interactions begin in fetal age and are often responsible for the genesis and progression of diseases. In gestational age, urine is a fundamental component of the amniotic fluid, acting on pulmonary maturation and growth. Moreover, in the first trimester of pregnancy, kidney is the main source of proline, contributing to collagen synthesis and lung parenchyma maturation. Pathologically speaking, the kidneys could become damaged by mediators of inflammation or immuno-mediated factors related to a primary lung pathology or, on the contrary, it could be the renal disease that determines a consecutive pulmonary damage. Furthermore, non immunological mechanisms are frequently involved in renal and pulmonary diseases, as observed in chronic pathologies such as sleep apnea syndrome, pulmonary hypertension, progressive renal disease and hemodialysis. Kidney damage has also been related to mechanical ventilation. The aim of this review is to describe pulmonary-renal interactions and their related pathologies, underscoring the need for a close collaboration between intensivists, pneumologists and nephrologists.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; Acute lung injury; Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; Mechanical ventilation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology
  • Acute Lung Injury / etiology
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation
  • Fluid Therapy
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / etiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / etiology
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / etiology