Renal tubular hyperkalaemia in childhood

Pediatr Nephrol. 1988 Oct;2(4):498-509. doi: 10.1007/BF00853448.


Potassium output from the body is regulated by renal excretion, which takes place predominantly in the late distal and cortical collecting tubules. The accepted model for potassium secretion implies the accumulation of potassium into the cell by the activity of basolateral Na-K-ATPase and its exit through voltage-dependent conductive channels. The factors regulating renal potassium secretion are potassium intake, distal urinary flow, systemic acid-base equilibrium, aldosterone, antidiuretic hormone and, probably, epinephrine. Renal handling of potassium is best studied by the response to the acute administration of furosemide. This loop diuretic not only increases sodium and chloride excretion but also enhances potassium and hydrogen ion excretion and stimulates the renin-aldosterone axis. The term "renal tubular hyperkalaemia" refers to a tubular dysfunction where the hyperkalaemia is disproportionate to any reduction in glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and not due primarily or solely to aldosterone deficiency or to drugs impairing either mineralocorticoid action or tubular transport. The syndromes of renal tubular hyperkalaemia mainly observed in childhood are "chloride shunt" syndrome, hyporeninaemic hypoaldosteronism and primary or secondary pseudohypoaldosteronism. Differential diagnosis between these conditions is easily made if attention is paid to the level of GFR, presence of sodium wasting, activity of the renin-aldosterone axis and renal response to acute administration of furosemide.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperkalemia / diagnosis
  • Hyperkalemia / etiology
  • Hyperkalemia / metabolism*
  • Kidney Tubules / metabolism*
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Syndrome


  • Hormones
  • Potassium