The clinical spectrum of chronic metabolic acidosis: homeostatic mechanisms produce significant morbidity

Am J Kidney Dis. 1997 Feb;29(2):291-302. doi: 10.1016/s0272-6386(97)90045-7.


Chronic metabolic acidosis is a process whereby an excess nonvolatile acid load is chronically placed on the body due to excess acid generation or diminished acid removal by normal homeostatic mechanisms. Two common, often-overlooked clinical conditions associated with chronic metabolic acidosis are aging and excessive meat ingestion. Because the body's homeostatic response to these pathologic processes is very efficient, the serum HCO3- and blood pH are frequently maintained within the "normal" range. Nevertheless, these homeostatic responses engender pathologic consequences, such as nephrolithiasis, bone demineralization, muscle protein breakdown, and renal growth. Based on this, the concept of eubicarbonatemic metabolic acidosis is introduced. Even in patients with a normal serum HCO3- and blood pH, it is important to treat the acid load and prevent pathologic homeostatic responses. These homeostatic responses, as well as the mechanisms responsible for their initiation, are reviewed.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Acidosis / complications*
  • Acidosis / metabolism
  • Acidosis / physiopathology
  • Aging / metabolism
  • Bicarbonates / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Chronic Disease
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism


  • Bicarbonates