West J Med. 1981 Jan;134(1):15-26.


Hypophosphatemia is a common laboratory abnormality that occurs in a wide variety of disorders. When severe and prolonged, it may be associated with rhabdomyolysis, brain dysfunction, myocardial failure and certain defects of erythrocyte function and structure. Other disorders ascribed to hypophosphatemia, including platelet dysfunction and thrombocytopenia, liver dysfunction, renal tubular defects, peripheral neuropathy, metabolic acidosis and leukocyte dysfunction are less well documented. In quantitative terms, the most severe phosphate deficiency is seen in patients who consume a phosphate-deficient diet in conjunction with large amounts of phosphate-binding antacids, in persons with severe, chronic alcoholism and in patients with wasting illnesses who are refed with substances containing an inadequate amount of phosphate. When severe hypophosphatemia occurs in such a setting, the clinical effects appear to be much more pronounced. While there have been some advances in our understanding of the pathophysiology of phosphate depletion and hypophosphatemia, much remains to be learned. Treatment of hypophosphatemia is controversial; however, there is little question that it is indicated in alcoholic patients and those with severe phosphate deficiency.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / etiology
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Blood Platelet Disorders / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hematologic Diseases / etiology
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Osteomalacia / etiology
  • Phosphates / blood*
  • Phosphates / therapeutic use


  • Phosphates