Cystic Fibrosis Presenting with Hypokalemia and MetabolicAlkalosis in a Previously Healthy Adolescent

Carlton M. Bates, Michel Baum, Raymond Quigley

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66 Scopus citations


Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an exocrine disease affecting multiple organ systems. Patients with CF usually present with respiratory or gastrointestinal abnormalities. This study presents a case of a previously healthy 17-yr-old man who was diagnosed with CF after presenting with metabolic alkalosis and hypokalemia. The defect associated with CF is in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR), which acts primarily as a chloride channel. Partially functional CFTR may be associated with less severe pulmonary and gastrointestinal manifestations, as in the case presented. Dysfunctional CFTR in the sweat ducts of CF patients are responsible for excessive chloride and sodium losses, especially in warm weather. Hypokalemia seen with heat stress is secondary to sweat as well as renal potassium wasting. Metabolic alkalosis is maintained by the excessive sweat sodium chloride losses which leads to extracellular fluid (ECF) volume contraction and chloride depletion. Generation of alkalosis may be related to dysfunctional CFTR in the kidney, but is most likely secondary to hypokalemia with ECF volume contraction. Finally, one must consider CF when confronted with hypokalemia and alkalosis in a previously healthy patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-356
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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