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Novel approaches to management of hyperkalaemia in kidney transplantation.


Purpose of review

Medications used frequently after kidney transplantation, including calcineurin inhibitors, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, beta blockers and antimicrobials, are considered the leading culprit for posttransplant hyperkalaemia in recipients with a well functioning allograft. Other risk factors include comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure; and consumption of a potassium-enriched diet. We review the mechanisms for hyperkalaemia following kidney transplantation that are addressed using nonpharmacological and pharmacological interventions. We also discuss emerging therapeutic approaches for the management of recurrent hyperkalaemia in solid organ transplantation, including newer potassium binding therapies.

Recent findings

Patiromer and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate are emerging potassium binders approved for the treatment of hyperkalaemia. Patiromer is a polymer that exchanges potassium for calcium ions. In contrast, sodium zirconium cyclosilicate is a nonpolymer compound that exchanges potassium for sodium and hydrogen ions. Both agents are efficacious in the treatment of chronic or recurrent hyperkalaemia and may result in fewer gastrointestinal side effects than older potassium binders such as sodium polystyrene sulfonate and calcium polystyrene sulfonate. Large-scale clinical studies have not been performed in kidney transplant patients. Patiromer may increase serum concentrations of tacrolimus, but not cyclosporine. Sodium zirconium cyclosilicate does not appear to compromise tacrolimus pharmacokinetics, although it may have a higher sodium burden.


Patiromer and sodium zirconium cyclosilicate may be well tolerated options to treat asymptomatic hyperkalaemia and have the potential to ease potassium dietary restrictions in kidney transplant patients by maintaining a plant-dominant, heart-healthy diet. Their efficacy, better tolerability and comparable cost with respect to previously available potassium binders make them an attractive therapeutic option in chronic hyperkalaemia following kidney transplantation.

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