Evidence for a pth-independent humoral mechanism in post-transplant hypophosphatemia and phosphaturia

Jacob Green, Hilla Debby, Eleanor Lederer, Moshe Levi, Hubert K. Zajicek, Tova Bick

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75 Scopus citations


Background. Patients undergoing successful kidney transplantation often manifest overt hypophosphatemia associated with exaggerated phosphaturia during the early post-transplant period (2 weeks to 3 months). The mechanism for this phenomenon has not been fully elucidated. We tested the hypothesis that a circulating serum factor [non-parathyroid hormone (non-PTH)], which operates during chronic renal failure (CRF) to maintain phosphate (Pi) homeostasis, can increase fractional excretion of Pi (FEPO4) in normal functioning kidney grafts during the early post-transplant period, thereby causing phosphaturia and hypophosphatemia. Methods. Five groups of patients were studied: control subjects (group 1, N = 16), "early" (2 weeks to 1 month) post-transplant patients (group 2, N = 22), "late" (9 to 12 months) post-transplant patients (group 3, N = 14), patients with advanced CRF (glomerular filtration rate = 30 to 40 mL/min; group 4, N = 8), and patients who suffered from end-stage renal failure and were treated by chronic hemodialysis (group 5, N = 14). Group 2 manifested significant hypophosphatemia and phosphaturia when compared with groups 1 and 3 (Pi = 0.9 ± 0.003 mg/dL, FEPO4 = 68 ± 5%, P < 0.0005 vs. groups 1 and 3). Sera were taken from each of the five subject groups and applied to the proximal tubular opossum kidney (OK) cells. The activity of Na/Pi-type 4 (that is, OK-specific type II transporter) was evaluated by measuring Na+-dependent 32Pi flux. The expression of Na/Pi type II mRNA and the abundance of Na/Pi protein were determined by Northern and Western blot assays, respectively. Results. When compared with sera from groups 1 and 3, 10% sera taken from groups 2, 4, and 5 (incubated overnight with OK cells) inhibited 32Pi flux by 25 to 30% (P < 0.0003). Both Na/Pi mRNA and the expression of Na/Pi protein were markedly augmented under the same conditions (P < 0.05 groups 2, 4, and 5 vs. groups 1 and 3). Time-course analysis revealed that the up-regulation of Na/Pi protein by sera from groups 2, 4, and 5 was observed as early as four hours of incubation, whereas augmented abundance of Na/Pi mRNA was only seen after eight hours of incubation. The addition of PTH (1-34) to sera from groups 2, 4, and 5 abolished the augmented expression of NaPi protein. We labeled OK cell surface membrane proteins with N-hydroxysuccinimide bound to biotin (NHS-SS-biotin). Biotinylated transporters incubated with the different sera were precipitated by strepavidin and identified by Western blot analysis. Cells incubated in sera from group 2 showed increased membrane bound transporter when compared with control sera, whereas the intracellular pool of the transporter was comparable between the two groups. Conclusion. A non-PTH circulating serum factor (possibly phosphatonin) that increases FEPO4 during CRF is also responsible for phosphaturia and hypophosphatemia in the early period following successful kidney transplantation. The putative factor inactivates Na/Pi activity along with inhibition of the transporter trafficking from the cell membrane into the cytosol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1182-1196
Number of pages15
JournalKidney international
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Fractional excretion of phosphate
  • Na/Pi cotransport
  • Opossum kidney cells
  • Parathyroid hormone
  • Phosphatonin
  • Proximal tubule
  • Renal transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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