Endocrinological disorders in acute kidney injury: an often overlooked field of clinical research


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common comorbidity, affecting approximately one in five hospitalized adults. The kidney is the site for the production, metabolism or excretion of most hormones, including the production of erythropoietin (EPO), the active form of vitamin D, renin, thrombopoietin, and the excretion of insulin, catecholamines, gastrin and many other hormones. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that AKI can have a considerable impact on the endocrine system. Although the effects of AKI on various parameters, including cardiovascular parameters, serum electrolytes and acid–base disorders, neuro-humoral mechanisms and neurological outcomes have been extensively studied, the endocrinological consequences of AKI are understudied. Thyroid dysfunction, mainly euthyroid sick syndrome, hypo/hyperglycemia, bone mineral disorders, changes in EPO and atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) levels are commonly found in AKI. EPO, thyroxine and ANP administration have been evaluated as potential tools to prevent or treat AKI with varying success, while the effects of AKI on some key hormones, including cortisol and insulin, have never been studied. Aim of this narrative review is to illustrate what is known and what is not known about the endocrinological outcomes of AKI. Few clinical trials are ongoing: however, there is a clear need for large-scale randomized controlled trials investigating the endocrinological consequences of AKI.

Graphical abstract