Sodium and Potassium in Health and Disease

  • Hana R. PohlEmail author
  • John S. Wheeler
  • H. Edward Murray
Part of the Metal Ions in Life Sciences book series (MILS, volume 13)


Sodium and potassium are essential for human health. They are important ions in the body and are associated with many physiologic and pathophysiologic processes. The chapter summarizes the basic physiologic actions of sodium and potassium on membranes of the neurologic and muscular systems. It provides information regarding the kinetics, i.e., absorption, distribution, and excretion of these ions and their movement between the intracellular and extracellular compartments. It also explains the physiologic systems that can influence proper homeostasis between sodium and potassium. Concentrations of sodium in the blood that exceed or do not reach the normal value range are called hypernatremia or hyponatremia, respectively. Similarly, the clinicians recognize hyperkalemia and hypokalemia. Pathologies associated with these states are described and examples of some of the diseases are presented here.


homeostasis hyperkalemia hypernatremia hypokalemia hyponatremia potassium sodium 


  1. 1.
    N. W. Tietz, Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry, 3rd ed, W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, 1987, 1010 p.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W. Ganong, Review of Medical Physiology, Lang Medical Books, Norwalk, Connecticut, 1991.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    J. C. Skou, Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1957, 23, 394–401.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    J. W. Hole Jr., Human Anatomy and Physiology, Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa, 1978, 814.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    M. W. Barnett, P.M. Larkman, Pract. Neurol. 2007, 7, 192–197.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    H. P. Vijverberg, J.M. van der Zalm, J. van der Bercken, Nature 1982, 295, 601–603.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    J. L. Lewis, III., Water and Sodium Balance, in The Merk Manual for Health Care Professionals, Eds R. S. Porter, J. L. Kaplan, Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, NJ, 2012, 1.
  8. 8.
    A. C. Guyton, J. E. Hall, Textbook of Medical Physiology, 10th ed, Saunders, Philadelphia, xxxii, 2000, 1064 p.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    H. Karppanen, P. Karppanen, E. Mervaala, J. Hum. Hypertens. 2005, 19, S10–S19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    L. R. Johnson, Gastrointestinal Physiology, 7th ed, The Mosby physiology monograph series, Mosby Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2007, xii, 160 p.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    G. Giebisch, G. Malnic, R. W. Berliner, Control of Renal Potassium Excretion, in The Kidney, Eds B. Brenner, F. Rector, W. B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1996, p. 371–407.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    S. D. Crowley, S. B. Gurley, M. J. Herrera, P. Ruiz, R. Griffiths, A. P. Kumar, H. S. Kim, O. Smithies, T. H. Le, and T. M. Coffman, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2006, 103, 17985–17990.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    R. Berkow, A. J. Fletcher, Eds, The Merk Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 16th ed. Merk Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ, 1992,Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    P. T. Chandrasoma, C. R. Taylor, Concise Pathology, Appleton and Lange Publishers, Norwalk, Connecticut, 1991.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    R. C. Hawkins, Clin. Chim. Acta 2003, 337, 169–172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    F. C. Bartter, W. B. Schwartz, Am. J. Med. 1967, 42, 790–806.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    P. H. Baylis, Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 2003, 35, 1495–1499.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    H. M. Siragy, Endocr. Pract. 2006, 12, 446–457.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    J. K. Hix, S. Silver, R.H. Sterns, Semin. Nephrol. 2011, 31, 553–566.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    D. Wile, Ann. Clin. Biochem. 2012, 49, 419–431.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    M. Carmosino, G. Procino, M. Svelto, Biol. Cell 2012, 104, 201–212.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    G. S. Shah, B. K. Das, S. Kumar, M. K. Singh, G. P. Bhandari, Kathmandu Univ. Med. J. (KUMJ) 2007, 5, 60–62.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    F. A. Odey, I. S. Etuk, M. H. Etukudoh, M. M. Meremikwu, Niger Postgrad. Med. J. 2010, 17, 19–22.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    G. Uysal, A. Sokmen, S. Vidinlisan, Indian J. Pediatr. 2000, 67, 329–333.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    N. El-Sherif, G. Turitto, Cardiol. J. 2011, 18, 233–245.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    J. Pepin, C. Shields, Emerg. Med. Pract. 2012, 14, 1–17; quiz 17–18.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    R. J. Unwin, F. C. Luft, D. G. Shirley, Nat. Rev. Nephrol. 2011, 7, 75–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    M. Krupp, Fluid and Electrolyte Disorders, in Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, Eds S. A. Schroeder, M. A. Krupp, L. M. Tierney, Jr., S. J. McPhee, Appleton and Lange Publishers, Norwalk, Connecticut, 1990, p. 593–594.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    N. W. Brown, South Med. J. 1985, 78, 403–405.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    A. P. Winston, Ann. Clin. Biochem. 2012, 49, 132–143.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    J. J. Weinstein, N. Engl. J. Med. 2003, 349, 2363–2364; author reply 2363–2364.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    E. M. Abdel-Rahman, A.V. Moorthy, Clin. Nephrol. 1997, 47, 106–11.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Y. Arimura, H. Tanaka, T. Yoshida, M. Shinozaki, T. Yanagida, T. Ando, H. Hirakata, M. Fujishima, Nephrol. Dial. Transplant 1999, 14, 957–959.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    B. L. Nichols, G. A. Alleyne, D. J. Barnes, C. D. Hazlewood, J. Pediatr. 1969, 74, 49–57.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    G. A. Alleyne, D. J. Millward, G. H. Scullard, J. Pediatr. 1970, 76, 75–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    B. L. Nichols, J. Alvarado, C. F. Hazlewood, F. Viteri, J. Pediatr. 1972, 80, 319–330.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    K. E. Rinehart, W. R. Featherston, J. C. Rogler, J. Nutr. 1968, 95, 627–632.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    I. Dorup, T. Clausen, Br. J. Nutr. 1989, 62, 269–284.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    J. Fuentebella, J. A. Kerner, Pediatr. Clin. North Am. 2009, 56, 1201–1210.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    M. Schulman, R. G. Narins, Am. J. Cardiol. 1990, 65, 4E–9E; discussion 22E–23E.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    R. Chatterjee, H. C. Yeh, D. Edelman, F. Brancati, Expert Rev. Endocrinol. Metab. 2011, 6, 665–672.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    A. Bielecka-Dabrowa, D. P. Mikhailidis, L. Jones, J. Rysz, W. S. Aronow, M. Banach, Int. J. Cardiol. 2012, 158, 12–17.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    S. G. Coca, M. A. Perazella, G. K. Buller, Am. J. Kidney Dis. 2005, 45, 233–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    H. Ashrafian, M. P. Frenneaux, L. H. Opie, Circulation 2007, 116, 434–448.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    R. S. Bhatia, J. V. Tu, D. S. Lee, P. C. Austin, J. Fang, A. Haouzi, Y. Gong, P. P. Liu, N. Engl. J. Med. 2006, 355, 260–269.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    C. C. Lang, D. M. Mancini, Heart 2007, 93, 665–671.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    M. R. Weir, M. Rolfe, Clin. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 2010, 5, 531–548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    N. Sotirakopoulos, I. Kalogiannidou, M. Tersi, K. Armentzioiou, D. Sivridis, K. Mavromatidis, Saudi J. Kidney Dis. Transpl. 2012, 23, 58–62.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    A. P. Singh, A. Junemann, A. Muthuraman, A. S. Jaggi, N. Singh, K. Grover, R. Dhawan, Pharmacol. Rep. 2012, 64, 31–44.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    J. Hayes, K. Kalantar-Zadeh, J. L. Lu, S. Turban, J. E. Anderson, C. P. Kovesdy, Nephron Clin. Pract. 2012, 120, c8–16.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hana R. Pohl
    • 1
    Email author
  • John S. Wheeler
    • 1
  • H. Edward Murray
    • 1
  1. 1.US Department of Health and Human ServicesAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)AtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations