Peculiar Electrolytic and Hormonal Abnormalities in Acute Renal Failure Due to Leptospirosis

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  • Laboratorio de Fisiopatologia Renal, e Laboratorio de Pesquisa Basica, Disciplina de Nefrologia, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Instituto de Infectologia Emilio Ribas, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hypokalemia in leptospirosis acute renal failure (ARF) was studied in nine patients with severe leptospirosis ARF and five patients with moderate leptospirosis ARF and compared with five patients with severe acute tubular necrosis (ATN) and eight healthy individuals. Urinary volumes of both the severe and moderate leptospirosis groups were higher than those of the severe ATN group. Leptospirosis groups had serum potassium levels lower than those found in the healthy and severe ATN groups. Serum sodium levels were lower in the severe leptospirosis group than in the moderate leptospirosis, the severe ATN, and the healthy groups. There was a positive correlation between the fractional excretion of sodium and potassium in the severe leptospirosis group as well as between serum creatinine and potassium levels in the pooled leptospirosis groups. Urinary pH in the severe and moderate leptospirosis groups was lower than in the severe ATN group. Aldosterone levels were higher in the severe leptospirosis group than in the healthy individuals. Cortisol levels were higher in the leptospirosis groups than in the healthy subjects. These results strongly suggest that hypokalemia in leptospirosis ARF is due to renal potassium wasting potentialized by aldosterone and cortisol, requiring that special attention is given to potassium replacement as well as to volume repletion in the treatment of leptospirosis ARF.