Urine Ammonium, Metabolic Acidosis and Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease

Nephron. 2018;138(3):222-228. doi: 10.1159/000481892. Epub 2017 Oct 19.


The metabolism of a typical Western diet generates 50-100 mEq of acid (H+) per day, which must be excreted in the urine for the systemic acid-base to remain in balance. The 2 major mechanisms that are responsible for the renal elimination of daily acid under normal conditions are ammonium (NH4+) excretion and titratable acidity. In the presence of systemic acidosis, ammonium excretion is intensified and becomes the crucial mechanism for the elimination of acid. The impairment in NH4+ excretion is therefore associated with reduced acid excretion, which causes excess accumulation of acid in the body and consequently results in metabolic acidosis. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with the impairment in acid excretion and precipitation of metabolic acidosis, which has an adverse effect on the progression of CKD. Recent studies suggest that the progressive decline in renal ammonium excretion in CKD is an important determinant of the ensuing systemic metabolic acidosis and is an independent factor for predicting the worsening of kidney function. While these studies have been primarily performed in hypertensive individuals with CKD, a closer look at renal NH4+ excretion in non-hypertensive individuals with CKD is warranted to ascertain its role in the progression of kidney disease.

Keywords: Acidosis; Chronic kidney disease; Urine ammonium.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Imbalance / complications
  • Acid-Base Imbalance / etiology
  • Acidosis / complications*
  • Acidosis / urine*
  • Ammonium Compounds / urine*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / urine*


  • Ammonium Compounds