Diuretic combinations in refractory oedema states: pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic relationships

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1996 Mar;30(3):229-49. doi: 10.2165/00003088-199630030-00004.


Diuretic resistance is encountered in a number of disease states, such as chronic renal failure, nephrotic syndrome, congestive heart failure (CHF) and cirrhosis. Diuretic stratagems which produce sequential nephron segment blockade, and thus a synergistic diuretic response, are frequently necessary and are regularly employed in these conditions. Pharmacokinetic determinants of diuretic response, including dose administered, absolute bioavailability, and tubular transport capacity and transport rate, are reviewed here. Pharmacodynamic factors are perhaps more important to overall response, and often result in modification of the dose-response relationship; these are also reviewed here. Stratagems used to maximise the diuretic response to loop diuretics include correcting abnormal haemodynamic parameters, utilising larger doses or constant intravenous infusions, and using albumin as a vehicle to deliver the loop diuretic to the site of tubular secretion. If these measures fail, then diuretic combinations are useful. Perhaps the most effective is the combination of metolazone (a thiazide-type diuretic) and a loop diuretic. The rationale for and use of various diuretic combinations, with particular emphasis on the metolazone-loop diuretic combination, is reviewed here and applied to the major disease states associated with diuretic resistance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diuretics / administration & dosage
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy*


  • Diuretics