This action of extra- and intracellular buffers prevents rapid and wide fluctuations in the pH of body fluids. However, the most important buffer is the HCO—/CO2 system because the end product, CO2, is rapidly regulated by the rate of respiration. The equilibrium reaction between HCO—, H+, carbonic acid (H2CO3), and CO2 was discussed in Chapters 20 and 26 and is repeated here because it forms the basis for understanding the role of this buffer system in renal acid-base regulation.
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