The clinical presentations of Bartter's syndrome and Gitelman's syndrome will be reviewed including two most recently described hypokalemic salt-losing tubulopathies. By taking the quite heterogeneous presentations and the apparently different pathophysiologies as the basis, the applicability of the physiologic classification has been tested.
According to the physiologic approach, salt-losing tubulopathies can be divided into two major groups (with completely different tubular defects): first, disorders of the thick ascending limb of Henle's loop (loop disorders); second, disorders of the distal convolute tubule (DCT disorders). A combination of these two groups with complety different tubular defects will finally lead to a third group: the combined loop/DCT disorders. On the basis of pharmacologic tests (pharmacotyping), it appears that the Bartter's syndrome V belongs to the DCT group, whereas the most recently described transient antenatal Bartter's syndrome best fits in the group with the loop and DCT combination.
Besides secondary hyperaldosteronism, loop disorders present a whole spectrum of (secondary) pathophysiologic characteristics with significant diagnostic and therapeutic impact, such as polyhydramnios, hyperprostaglandinuria, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, and nephrocalcinosis. Recent reports indicate that neonatal hyperparathyroidism has also to be added to the clinical presentation of isolated loop disorders.
As long as gene therapy is not available, the overall therapeutic management follows the clinical presentation, which leads to the underlying pathophysiology of renal salt wasting. Thus, when dealing with Bartter's syndrome and Gitelman's syndrome, the correct physiologic and pharmacologic characterization appears to be essential for a sound diagnostic and therapeutic patient management.
Center of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Philipps University Marburg, Marburg, Germany
Correspondence to Prof. em. Dr med., Hannsjörg W. Seyberth, MD, Center of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Philipps University Marburg, Baldinger Str., 35043 Marburg, Germany. Tel: +49 6341 944655; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org