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Furosemide-induced urinary acidification is caused by pronounced H+ secretion in the thick ascending limb

American Journal of Physiology. Renal physiology, American Physiological Society, ISSN 0363-6127

Volume 309, 2, 2015

DOI:10.1152/ajprenal.00154.2015, Dimensions: pub.1011822438, PMID: 25995110,



  1. (1) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
  2. (2) Kiel University, grid.9764.c







The loop diuretic furosemide inhibits NaCl reabsorption in the thick ascending limb (TAL). In addition, furosemide acidifies the urine, which is traditionally explained by increased Na+ loading to the distal tubule causing an activation of H+ secretion via H+-ATPase in α-intercalated cells. The inability to acidify urine in response to furosemide serves to diagnose distal renal tubular acidosis (dysfunction of α-intercalated cells). Since the TAL is important for acid/base regulation, we speculated that it is involved in furosemide-induced urinary acidification. Luminal furosemide (100 μM) caused major, stable, and reversible intracellular alkalization (7.27 ± 0.06 to 7.6 ± 0.04) in isolated perfused murine medullary TAL and pronounced H+ secretion. This H+ secretion was fully inhibited with luminal amiloride (1 mM) and the Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE)3-specific antagonist #4167 (1 μM). Moreover, furosemide triggered a substantial drop of intracellular Na+ concentration in the medullary TAL. These results suggest that the furosemide-induced H+ secretion is a consequence of a drop in intracellular Na+ concentration, increasing the driving force for NHE3. Intriguingly, in whole animal experiments, furosemide-induced urinary acidification and net acid excretion were markedly reduced by specific NHE3 inhibition. Furthermore, the furosemide-induced urinary acidification was partially preserved during epithelial Na+ channel inhibition with benzamil. These results provide new insights in the mechanism of furosemide-induced urinary acidification and emphasize the role of the TAL in renal acid/base handling.

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