Type 4 renal tubular acidosis and uric acid nephrolithiasis: Two faces of the same coin?

Emmanuel A. Adomako, Naim M. Maalouf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of reviewThe present review summarizes findings of recent studies examining the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and treatment of type 4 renal tubular acidosis (RTA) and uric acid nephrolithiasis, two conditions characterized by an abnormally acidic urine.Recent findingsBoth type 4 RTA and uric acid nephrolithiasis disproportionately occur in patients with type 2 diabetes and/or chronic kidney disease. Biochemically, both conditions are associated with reduced renal ammonium excretion resulting in impaired urinary buffering and low urine pH. Reduced ammoniagenesis is postulated to result from hyperkalemia in type 4 RTA and from insulin resistance and fat accumulation in the renal proximal tubule in uric acid nephrolithiasis. The typical biochemical findings of hyperkalemia and systemic acidosis of type 4 RTA are rarely reported in uric acid stone formers. Additional clinical differences between the two conditions include findings of higher urinary uric acid excretion and consequent urinary uric acid supersaturation in uric acid stone formers but not in type 4 RTA.SummaryType 4 RTA and uric acid nephrolithiasis share several epidemiological, clinical, and biochemical features. Although both conditions may be manifestations of diabetes mellitus and thus have a large at-risk population, the means to the shared biochemical finding of overly acidic urine are different. This difference in pathophysiology may explain the dissimilarity in the prevalence of kidney stone formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-152
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in nephrology and hypertension
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023


  • type 4 renal tubular acidosis
  • uric acid nephrolithiasis
  • urine ammonium
  • urine pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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