Critical Care Science

Formerly Revista Brasileira de Terapia Intensiva

ISSN: 2965-2774

Free Online Access

Official Journal of the Associação de Medicina Intensiva Brasileira and the Sociedade Portuguesa de Cuidados Intensivos


2024 2024;35(4):421-422


Should the citrate used in continuous renal replacement therapy be taken into account as a source of calories?

Devemos considerar o citrato usado na terapia de substituição renal contínua como fonte de calorias?

Lucas Gobetti da Luz1, Cassiano Teixeira,2, Marcelo Filippi2

1 Hospital Moinhos de Vento Departmet of Nephrology Porto Alegre RS Brazil Departmet of Nephrology, Hospital Moinhos de Vento - Porto Alegre (RS), Brazil
2 Hospital Moinhos de Vento Department of Clinical Medicine Porto Alegre RS Brazil Department of Clinical Medicine - Hospital Moinhos de Vento - Porto Alegre (RS), Brazil

Conflicts of interest: None.

Responsible editor: Felipe Dal-Pizzol

Submitted on August 08, 2023
Accepted on August 12, 2023

Corresponding author: Cassiano Teixeira, Departamento de Clínica Médica, Hospital Moinhos de Vento, Rua Ramiro Barcelos, 910, Zip code: 91340-001 - Porto Alegre (RS), Brazil, E-mail:


To the editor

Acute kidney injury is a prevalent organ dysfunction in intensive care units (ICUs) and often affects critically ill patients. Currently, approximately 13.5% of patients require renal replacement therapy (RRT).(1) Critically ill patients are at a high risk of experiencing hemorrhagic events, and therefore, sodium citrate is the preferred method of anticoagulation in continuous renal replacement therapy (CRRT). Sodium citrate is associated with a longer filter lifespan and reduced bleeding risk.(1)

Citrate is administered in the extracorporeal circuit, where it chelates ionized calcium and inhibits thrombin generation. Additionally, is an underestimated source of calories.(2) When given it is as a predilution, the citrate of citrate-calcium complexes is partially removed by the effluent fluid. One milligram of citrate provides approximately 2.5kcal, but its metabolic effect is not easily determined due to variations in cellular activity and other interactions.(3-5) Citrates provide a caloric value of 0.59kcal/mmol (or 2.48kJ/mmol) when metabolized in the Krebs cycle. However, the effective caloric gain from citrate depends on the solution used, infused dose, blood filtration rate, filter type, and amount removed by RRT.(3) Some authors suggest that continuous dialysis using trisodium citrate solution can provide between 200 and 600kcal per day.(3,4) Considering that each mmol of citrate potentially has 592 calories,(4,5) the caloric potential of this source appears to be significant in patients undergoing CRRT who receive high amounts of citrate using various protocols. The substantial caloric intake from citrate cannot be overlooked, even when accounting for citrate filtration during dialysis therapy (estimated at a citrate removal of 20 - 50%).(3)Table 1 summarizes the likely caloric yield of citrate in three different strategies of CRRT.

Table 1 - Estimated caloric delivery by each protocol considering blood flow and losses in dialysis and hemofiltration
Treatment protocol Blood flow rate (Qb) (mL/minute) Total caloric delivery (kcal/day) Caloric delivery considering a loss of 20% (kcal/day) Caloric delivery considering a loss of 50% (kcal/day)
Author´s Protocol 100 289.8 231.8 144.9
120 347.8 278.2 173.9
150 434.7 347.8 217.3
Ci-Ca Protocol® 100 340.9 272.7 170.4
120 409.1 327.3 204.5
150 511.4 409.1 255.7
Alabama Protocol® 100 255.7 204.5 127.8
120 306.8 245.5 153.4
150 383.6 306.8 191.8
Table 1 - Estimated caloric delivery by each protocol considering blood flow and losses in dialysis and hemofiltration

Nutritional imbalance in critically ill and CRRT patients can significantly influence patient outcomes, and neglecting to consider the caloric contributions resulting from continuous dialysis anticoagulation with trisodium citrate means ignoring the precision needed in caloric targets for critically ill patients. Therefore, it is essential to account for this factor in the calculation.


Liu C, Mao Z, Kang H, Hu J, Zhou F. Regional citrate versus heparin anticoagulation for continuous renal replacement therapy in critically ill patients: a meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis of randomized controlled trials. Crit Care. 2016;20(1):144.
Jonckheer J, Spapen H, Malbrain ML, Oschima T, De Waele E. Energy expenditure and caloric targets during continuous renal replacement therapy under regional citrate anticoagulation. A viewpoint. Clin Nutr. 2020;39(2):353-7.
Jonckheer J, Demol J, Lanckmans K, Malbrain ML, Spapen H, De Waele E. MECCIAS trial: metabolic consequences of continuous veno-venous hemofiltration on indirect calorimetry. Clin Nutr. 2020;39(12):3797-803.
Rogers AR, Jenkins B. Calorie provision from citrate anticoagulation in continuous renal replacement therapy in critical care. J Intensive Care Soc. 2021;22(3):183-6.
Balik M, Zakharchenko M, Leden P, Otahal M, Hruby J, Polak F, et al. Bioenergetic gain of citrate anticoagulated continuous hemodiafiltration--a comparison between 2 citrate modalities and unfractionated heparin. J Crit Care. 2013;28(1):87-95.
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