The Role of Serum Chloride in Acute and Chronic Heart Failure: A Narrative Review

Link to article at PubMed

Cardiorenal Med. 2021 Apr 19:1-12. doi: 10.1159/000515604. Online ahead of print.


Clinical guidelines include diuretics for the treatment of heart failure (HF), not to decrease mortality but to decrease symptoms and hospitalizations. More attention has been paid to the worse outcomes, including mortality, associated with continual diuretic therapy due to hypochloremia. Studies have revealed a pivotal role for serum chloride in the pathophysiology of HF and is now a target of treatment to decrease mortality. The prognostic value of serum chloride in HF has been the subject of much attention. Mechanistically, the macula densa, a region in the renal juxtaglomerular apparatus, relies on chloride levels to sense salt and volume status. The recent discovery of with-no-lysine (K) (WNK) protein kinase as an intracellular chloride sensor sheds light on the possible reason of diuretic resistance in HF. The action of chloride on WNKs results in the upregulation of the sodium-potassium-chloride cotransporter and sodium-chloride cotransporter receptors, which could lead to increased electrolyte and fluid reabsorption. Genetic studies have revealed that a variant of a voltage-sensitive chloride channel (CLCNKA) gene leads to almost a 50% decrease in current amplitude and function of the renal chloride channel. This variant increases the risk of HF. Several trials exploring the prognostic value of chloride in both acute and chronic HF have shown mostly positive results, some even suggesting a stronger role than sodium. However, so far, interventional trials exploring serum chloride as a therapeutic target have been largely inconclusive. This study is a review of the pathophysiologic effects of hypochloremia in HF, the genetics of chloride channels, and clinical trials that are underway to investigate novel approaches to HF management.

PMID:33873189 | DOI:10.1159/000515604

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