What factors affect extracellular or intracellular potassium levels?

Updated: Apr 09, 2020
  • Author: Eleanor Lederer, MD, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

Alkalosis enhances potassium entry into cells. Acidosis causes a shift of potassium from intracellular space into extracellular space. Inorganic or mineral acid acidoses are more likely to cause a shift of potassium out of the cells than organic acidosis is.

In addition, an acute increase in osmolality, such as may result from hyperglycemia, causes potassium to exit from cells. Acute cell-tissue breakdown (eg, hemolysis or rhabdomyolysis) releases potassium into the extracellular space.


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