Increasing plasma [K+] by intravenous potassium infusion reduces NCC phosphorylation and drives kaliuresis and natriuresis.


Dietary potassium loading results in rapid kaliuresis, natriuresis, and diuresis associated with reduced phosphorylation (p) of the distal tubule Na(+)-Cl(-) cotransporter (NCC). Decreased NCC-p inhibits NCC-mediated Na(+) reabsorption and shifts Na(+) downstream for reabsorption by epithelial Na(+) channels (ENaC), which can drive K(+) secretion. Whether the signal is initiated by ingesting potassium or a rise in plasma K(+) concentration ([K(+)]) is not understood. We tested the hypothesis, in male rats, that an increase in plasma [K(+)] is sufficient to reduce NCC-p and drive kaliuresis. After an overnight fast, a single 3-h 2% potassium (2%K) containing meal increased plasma [K(+)] from 4.0 ± 0.1 to 5.2 ± 0.2 mM; increased urinary K(+), Na(+), and volume excretion; decreased NCC-p by 60%; and marginally reduced cortical Na(+)-K(+)-2Cl(-) cotransporter (NKCC) phosphorylation 25% (P = 0.055). When plasma [K(+)] was increased by tail vein infusion of KCl to 5.5 ± 0.1 mM over 3 h, significant kaliuresis and natriuresis ensued, NCC-p decreased by 60%, and STE20/SPS1-related proline alanine-rich kinase (SPAK) phosphorylation was marginally reduced 35% (P = 0.052). The following were unchanged at 3 h by either the potassium-rich meal or KCl infusion: Na(+)/H(+) exchanger 3 (NHE3), NHE3-p, NKCC, ENaC subunits, and renal outer medullary K(+) channel. In summary, raising plasma [K(+)] by intravenous infusion to a level equivalent to that observed after a single potassium-rich meal triggers renal kaliuretic and natriuretic responses, independent of K(+) ingestion, likely driven by decreased NCC-p and activity sufficient to shift sodium reabsorption downstream to where Na(+) reabsorption and flow drive K(+) secretion.