Renin Aldosterone System and Potassium Levels in Chronic Lead Intoxication

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Renin activity and aldosterone were evaluated relative to potassium levels and lead intoxication in 33 patients with a history of “moonshine” ingestion. Patients were divided into three groups: I, lead intoxicated with hyperkalemia; II, lead intoxicated without hyperkalemia; and III, not lead intoxicated without hyperkalemia. Those in group I demonstrated suppressed plasma renih activity, baseline and after furosemide, and blunted aldosterone responsiveness to furosemide. Plasma renin activity was not different in groups II and III, whereas aldosterone responsiveness was less in group II than in III. Group I patients tended to be older, had lower creatinine clearances‘, and six of nine had mild hyperchioremic acidosis. Diabetes and cortisol insufficiency were not present. Chronic lead intoxication due to illicit alcohol ingestion is associated with hyporeninemic hypoaldosteronism and hyperkalemia which appear to develop as the lead nephropathy progresses with duration and/or aging.

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