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An analysis of renal tubular acidosis by the Stewart method

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Renal tubular acidosis (RTA) comprises a group of disorders characterized by a low capacity for net acid excretion and persistent hyperchloremic, metabolic acidosis. To investigate the role of chloride, we performed hypotonic (0.45%) saline-loading experiments in 12 children with alkali-treated distal RTA (dRTA) and compared the results with data obtained from 17 healthy control subjects. In patients, but not in controls, saline loading induced both hyperchloremia and metabolic acidosis. Hyperchloremia was associated with high total and high distal fractional reabsorption of chloride [CH20/(CH20+CCl)]. The increase in plasma chloride varied inversely with the fractional excretion of chloride (CCl) and correlated with the decrease in blood pH. However, the urinary excretion of bicarbonate did not correlate with either changes in blood pH or plasma bicarbonate concentration. Our findings suggest that the mechanism of hyperchloremia was enhanced Cl/HCO3 exchange by the distal tubule. The resulting metabolic acidosis is better explained by changes in the strong ion difference (the Stewart theory) than by changes in the urine bicarbonate excretion (the traditional theory).

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Correspondence to Howard E. Corey.

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Corey, H.E., Vallo, A. & Rodríguez-Soriano, J. An analysis of renal tubular acidosis by the Stewart method. Pediatr Nephrol 21, 206–211 (2006).

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