The syndrome of distal (type 1) renal tubular acidosis. Clinical and laboratory findings in 58 cases

Medicine (Baltimore). 1988 Mar;67(2):84-99. doi: 10.1097/00005792-198803000-00002.


The clinical and laboratory findings in 14 infants, 2 children and 42 adults with RTA-1 have been retrospectively analyzed and the patients classified as having the hereditary (14%), acquired (31%), or idiopathic (55%) form. In 7 of the 8 hereditary cases, RTA-1 appeared to be a complication of hereditary hypercalciuria. The majority of acquired cases (61%) were secondary to immune-mediated diseases. All of the 14 infants with RTA-1 were classified as idiopathic. All of the idiopathic cases in children and adults were associated with nephrolithiasis and/or nephrocalcinosis, 33% of which had a family history of nephrolithiasis. The 14 infants presented with failure to thrive. Seventy-seven percent of children and adults with RTA-1 had nephrolithiasis and/or nephrocalcinosis and usually presented with symptoms related to this problem. Adults without nephrolithiasis or nephrocalcinosis usually presented with electrolyte disturbances or acidosis. Hypokalemia, the most common electrolyte disturbance, was present in 28% of the entire series. Acidosis was present in all infants and in 70% of children and adults. Clinically apparent bone disease was observed in 3 infants, and in 1 adult with nephrolithiasis. Glomerular function was normal in infants and in the 2 children, but depressed in 40% of adults. Recurrent urinary tract infection was a contributing factor but was not the sole cause of renal failure. Surprisingly, kidney stone number, the number of surgical procedures, and the presence of nephrocalcinosis had no apparent effect on the development of renal failure. Glomerular filtration rate was significantly higher in patients with incomplete RTA-1, and serum total CO2 was significantly correlated with creatinine clearance and minimum urinary pH. Hypercalciuria was present in 32% of patients with nephrolithiasis and/or nephrocalcinosis, and urinary citrate excretion was low in all of 16 patients in whom it was measured. Hypocitraturia appeared to be due in most cases to potassium depletion and renal failure, but may have occurred as a primary defect in 1 patient with hereditary RTA. Urinary uric acid excretion was elevated in 23% of patients with stones in whom it was measured. The mean number of stone-forming events was 51 +/- 14. Although a weak correlation between urinary calcium excretion and stone number was observed, the cause for prodigious stone formation could not be explained. This series emphasizes the variable degree to which the common clinical manifestations of RTA-1 (metabolic acidosis, hypercalciuria, nephrolithiasis, nephrocalcinosis, and potassium depletion) are expressed.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Renal Tubular / etiology
  • Acidosis, Renal Tubular / metabolism*
  • Acidosis, Renal Tubular / physiopathology
  • Adolescent
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Carbon Dioxide / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electrolytes / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney Calculi / complications
  • Kidney Glomerulus / physiopathology
  • Kidney Tubules, Distal / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Nephrocalcinosis / complications


  • Electrolytes
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Calcium