The relation between serum and red blood cell (RBC) inorganic phosphate levels, RBC 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (2,3-DPG) levels, RBC nucleotide phosphate (Pn), and RBC total phosphate (Pt) levels were studied during the early phases of treatment and recovery from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).

A steady drop in serum inorganic phosphate was found during the first 24 hours of insulin treatment and was most profound at 24 hours. No statistically significant changes (P>0.05) were found in red cell inorganic phosphate or nucleotide phosphate levels during the 24-hour study period. The levels of total red cell phosphate were lower in this group of patients than in nonacidotic diabetic subjects and decreased slightly after 24 hours of treatment. The red cell 2,3-DPG levels were low at the initiation of therapy and remained low during the 24-hour study period. Glucose, bicarbonate, lactate, and ketone levels fell in linear patterns with treatment.

In view of the current evidence for the effects of low 2,3-DPG on oxygen delivery and the relation of low serum phosphate levels to RBC glycolysis and 2,3-DPG formation, this study reëmphasizes the need for phosphate replacement during the early phases of treatment of DKA.

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