The role of phosphorus in the pathophysiology of chronic kidney disease


  • Dr. Natalie C. Finch's current address is School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bristol, Langford, Bristol, BS40 5DU, UK.

  • The Renal Research Clinic at the RVC acknowledges support from Royal Canin for its research on feline hyperphosphataemia and chronic kidney disease. R. Geddes is also in receipt of an Everts Luff Trust Research Training Fellowship.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to

Ms. Rebecca Geddes, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA, UK.




To review the human and veterinary literature on the role of phosphorus in the pathophysiology of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and to explore why control of plasma phosphorus concentration is an important goal in the management of patients with this disease.

Data Sources

Human and veterinary studies, reviews, clinical reports, textbooks, and recent research findings focused on phosphate homeostasis and CKD patient management.

Human Data Synthesis

Recent studies using rodent models and human patients with CKD have focused on trying to elucidate the role of the phosphatonins, predominantly fibroblast growth factor-23, in phosphate homeostasis and the pathophysiology of secondary renal hyperparathyroidism (SRHP). Fibroblast growth factor-23 is now considered to be a key regulator of plasma phosphorus concentration in people but has only recently been investigated in companion animal species.

Veterinary Data Synthesis

Cross-sectional studies of naturally occurring CKD in dogs and cats have shown hyperphosphatemia and SRHP to be highly prevalent and associated with increased morbidity and mortality in these patients. Experimental studies of surgically induced renal impairment in the dog and cat, and cases of naturally occurring CKD have emphasized the ability of renal care diets to modify plasma phosphorus and parathyroid hormone concentrations. Evidence from these studies indicates that maintaining plasma phosphorus concentrations to within the International Renal Interest Society targets for CKD patients improves survival time and reduces clinical manifestations of hyperphosphatemia and SRHP.


The maintenance of plasma phosphorus concentrations in to within the International Renal Interest Society targets is recommended in management of CKD patients. The discovery of the phosphatonins has improved understanding of the mechanisms involved in phosphorus homeostasis and SRHP and may lead to improved ability to monitor and manage these patients.