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Immune-related potassium-losing interstitial nephritis: a comparison with distal renal tubular acidosis

O.M. WRONG, T.G. FEEST, A.G. MACIVER
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/86.8.513 513-542 First published online: 1 August 1993

Abstract

Six patients with immune-related potassium-losing interstitial nephritis (IRPLIN) are described, and compared with 34 patients with immune-related distal renal tubular acidosis (IRdRTA) and 24 with familial distal renal tubular acidosis (FdRTA).

Close similarities were found between IRPLIN and IRdRTA. In our experience, both syndromes are confined to postpubertal women, and are characterized by systemic features of autoimmune disease and a chronic interstitial nephritis which is probably immune-mediated and responsible for the functional tubular defects of the two syndromes. In IRPLIN, a renal potassium-losing state is the main consequence (probably mediated at least in part by renin and aldosterone hypersecre-tion secondary to renal sodium-losing), and urinary acidification is normal or minimally disturbed; consequently there is no systemic acidosis, and the syndrome is not complicated by nephrocal-cinosis or renal bone disease. In IRdRTA, the renal tubular lesion also usually causes potassium depletion, but the most prominent tubular fault is a defect in urinary acidification, which commonly causes metabolic acidosis and often leads to nephrocalcinosis and bone disease.

Familial dRTA, in contrast, is equally prevalent in the two sexes and presents at an earlier age than IRPLIN and IRdRTA. Patients with FdRTA and IRdRTA have a similar urinary acidification defect and propensity to acidosis, nephrocalcinosis and bone disease. FdRTA is frequently complicated by renal potassium-losing, but hypokalaemia is less common and less profound than in IRdRTA and IRPLIN, suggesting that immune-related interstitial nephritis has a particular tendency to cause renal potassium-losing.