Urinary acidification was studied in nine patients with hyperchloremic metabolic acidosis. The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism(s) of impaired distal acidification by the systematic administration of sodium sulfate and neutral phosphate. No impairment of proximal acidification was apparent because all patients had a fractional bicarbonate excretion below 5% at plasma bicarbonate concentrations above 22 mEq/liter. All patients except two were unable to lower urine pH below 5.5 despite systemic metabolic acidosis. The two patients who lowered urine pH normally were hyperkalemic and had selective aldosterone deficiency. Six patients failed to lower the urine pH below 5.5 with sodium sulfate (6.04±0.16) and were unable to achieve a normal urine minus blood (U-B) P(CO2) gradient with neutral phosphate (2.8±3.5 mm Hg). Control subjects, the two patients with selective aldosterone deficiency, and the remaining patient lowered the urine pH below 5.5 and increased the U-B P(CO2) gradient above 25 mm Hg in response to sodium sulfate and neutral phosphate infusion, respectively. The abnormal response to these agents exhibited by six patients strongly suggests that the mechanism of impaired distal acidification was that of secretory failure of the proton pump. The normal response of the remaining three patients indicates that the proton pump was able to secrete hydrogen ions normally under maximal stimulation. This pattern is totally predictable in patients with isolated selective aldosterone deficiency who are also capable of lowering the urine pH normally in the presence of systemic metabolic acidosis. The distinctive acidification pattern of the remaining patient who was also hyperkalemic can be explained on the basis of a voltage-dependent type of distal renal tubular acidosis. This type may be disclosed by the findings of impairment of both hydrogen ion and potassium secretion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas