Acid-Base Basics

Michael F. Romero, Adam J. Rossano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Summary: Although students initially learn of ionic buffering in basic chemistry, buffering and acid-base transport in biology often is relegated to specialized classes, discussions, or situations. That said, for physiology, nephrology, pulmonology, and anesthesiology, these basic principles often are critically important for mechanistic understanding, medical treatments, and assessing therapy effectiveness. This short introductory perspective focuses on basic chemistry and transport of buffers and acid-base equivalents, provides an outline of basic science acid-base concepts, tools used to monitor intracellular pH, model cellular responses to pH buffer changes, and the more recent development and use of genetically encoded pH-indicators. Examples of newer genetically encoded pH-indicators (pHerry and pHire) are provided, and their use for in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo experiments are described. The continued use and development of these basic tools provide increasing opportunities for both basic and potentially clinical investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-327
Number of pages12
JournalSeminars in nephrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • CO/HCO buffering
  • GEpHI
  • Intracellular pH
  • ammonium pulse
  • genetically encoded pH indicator
  • pH buffering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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