Sugar or fat? Renal tubular metabolism reviewed in health and disease

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The kidney is a highly metabolically active organ that relies on specialized epithelial cells comprising the renal tubules to reabsorb most of the filtered water and solutes. Most of this reabsorption is mediated by the proximal tubules, and high amounts of energy are needed to facilitate solute movement. Thus, proximal tubules use fatty acid oxidation, which generates more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) than glucose metabolism, as its preferred metabolic pathway. After kidney injury, metabolism is altered, leading to decreased fatty acid oxidation and increased lactic acid generation. This review discusses how metabolism differs between the proximal and more distal tubular segments of the healthy nephron. In addition, metabolic changes in acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease are discussed, as well as how these changes in metabolism may impact tubule repair and chronic kidney disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1580
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Kidney injury
  • Kidney metabolism
  • Proximal tubule


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