What is the role of buffers in the pathogenesis of metabolic acidosis?

Updated: Dec 08, 2020
  • Author: Christie P Thomas, MBBS, FRCP, FASN, FAHA; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Buffers are weak acids or bases that are able to minimize changes in pH by taking up or releasing H+. Phosphate is an example of an effective buffer, as in the following reaction:

HPO42- + (H+)↔H2 PO4-

Upon addition of an H+ to extracellular fluids, the monohydrogen phosphate binds H+ to form dihydrogen phosphate, minimizing the change in pH. Similarly, when [H+] is decreased, the reaction is shifted to the left. Thus, buffers work as a first-line of defense to blunt the changes in pH that would otherwise result from the constant daily addition of acids and bases to body fluids.

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