How does chronic kidney disease affect potassium homeostasis?

Updated: Jun 20, 2018
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

In chronic kidney disease, renal adaptive mechanisms allow the kidneys to maintain potassium homeostasis until the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decreases to less than 15-20 mL/min. Additionally, in the presence of renal failure, the proportion of potassium excreted through the gut is thought to increase, though evidence for this compensatory mechanism has been elusive.

The colon is the major site of gut regulation of potassium excretion. Therefore, potassium levels can remain relatively normal under stable conditions, even with advanced renal insufficiency. However, as renal function worsens, the kidneys may not be capable of handling an acute potassium load. An excess of only 100-200 mEq will increase the serum potassium concentration by about 1 mEq/L. [11]


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