JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Biomarkers of Covert Acid Stress in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Cross-Sectional Study.

INTRODUCTION: Like metabolic acidosis, earlier stages of acid (H+) stress, including an ongoing H+ challenge in the form of dietary H+, without or with steady-state H+ accumulation but with normal plasma total CO2 (PTCO2) (the latter state known as eubicarbonatemic acidosis), are associated with augmented progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD), but diagnosis of this covert H+ stress is clinically problematic. Prior published studies to identify clinically practical biomarkers of covert H+ stress did not include assessments of either dietary H+ or H+ retention.

METHODS: We tested plasma pH (PpH), 8-h urine excretion of citrate (UcitV) or ammonium (UNH4+V) as biomarkers of dietary H+ assessed as potential renal acid load (PRAL), and of steady-state H+ retention by comparing observed to expected PTCO2 increase 2 h after an oral NaHCO3 bolus. We recruited 313 non-diabetic participants with PTCO2 ≥ 22 mM to exclude participants with metabolic acidosis and with eGFR (mean [SD], mL/min/1.73 m2) stages G1 (n = 62, 99.2 [7.3]), G2 (n = 167, 73.8 [6.3]), and G3 (n = 84, 39.9 [6.7]). We performed linear regressions (LR) between H+ retention or PRAL (dependent variables) and PpH, UcitV, or UNH4+V (independent variables) after adjusting for eGFR.

RESULTS: Steady-state H+ retention (mean [SD], mmol) increased with stage (G1 = 3.8 [12.5], G2 = 18.2 [12.4], and G3 = 25.6 [9.0]). PpH was not significantly associated with PRAL in any group, and its association with H+ retention was significant only for G3 (p < 0.01). UcitV association with PRAL was significant only for G1 (p < 0.01) but not for G2 (p = 0.65) or G3 (p = 0.11). UcitV association with H+ retention was negative for both G2 (p < 0.01) and G3 (p < 0.01) but was not significant for G1 (p = 0.50). Adding UNH4+V to UcitV as a regressor for H+ retention increased r2 only marginally for G2 (0.61-0.63) and G3 (0.75-0.79). UNH4+V association with PRAL was positive (p < 0.01) for G1 and G2 but was not significant for G3 (p = 0.46). UNH4+V association with H+ retention was significant for both G2 (p < 0.04) and G3 (p < 0.01) but diverged directionally, being positive for G2 but negative for G3.

DISCUSSION: Among patients with CKD at risk for covert H+ stress, lower UcitV better identified eubicarbonatemic acidosis than UNH4+V because the UNH4+V versus H+ retention relationship diverged between G2 and G3. Neither test identified eubicarbonatemic acidosis with certainty, indicating need for further work to establish a clinically useful test. On the other hand, UNH4+V had better utility identifying increased dietary H+ assessed as PRAL in G1 and G2.

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