The transtubular potassium gradient which reflects potassium secretion by the kidney through the cortical collecting duct, has not yet been tested as a surrogate marker of kidney function decline. Here, we investigate the relationship between the transtubular potassium gradient and chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression.
We studied 1672 patients from the KoreaN Cohort Study for Outcome in Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease (KNOW-CKD) cohort. The transtubular potassium gradient was calculated using a standard equation. The study endpoint was CKD progression, defined as a composite of a ≥ 50% decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) from baseline values or end-stage kidney disease.
During a median follow-up of 4.1 years (7149 person-years), 441 participants reached the endpoint. In cause-specific competing risk analysis, the highest tertile was associated with a significantly lower risk of an adverse kidney outcome compared with the lowest tertile [hazard ratio (HR), 0.73; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.55-0.97]. When the transtubular potassium gradient was treated as a continuous variable, an increase of 1 in the transtubular potassium gradient was associated with a 6% lower risk of CKD progression (95% CI, 0.90-0.99). This association was particularly evident in patients with an eGFR ≥ 45 mL/min/1.73 m. A time-updated transtubular potassium gradient model showed similar results. The predictive performance of the transtubular potassium gradient was significantly less than that of the eGFR, but similar to that of proteinuria, serum bicarbonate, and urine osmolality.
A higher transtubular potassium gradient is associated with a significantly lower risk of CKD progression, suggesting that it may offer insights into the prognosis of CKD.