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      Gene Polymorphisms and Serum Alpha-2-Heremans-Schmid Levels in Italian Haemodialysis Patients

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          Background: Vascular calcification (VC) and accelerated atherosclerosis are major causes of cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality in haemodialysis (HD) patients. Inhibitory proteins are associated with reduced VC and may play a key role in preventing CV in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. Fetuin-A, also known as α<sub>2</sub>-Heremans-Schmid glycoprotein (AHSG), is a circulating plasma protein with inhibitory effects on VC that has been associated with inflammation and CV mortality in HD patients. In the present study, we investigated the associations between serum fetuin-A levels and its gene (AHSG) polymorphisms in an Italian HD population. Methods: Ninety-six patients on stable chronic HD treatment and 57 healthy controls were genotyped for the common polymorphisms on the AHSG (T256S). In addition, serum fetuin-A levels were tested. Results: In this study, serum fetuin-A levels were lower in HD patients (0.35 ± 0.11 g/l) compared with healthy controls (0.62 ± 0.31 g/l, p < 0.05). In both HD patients and the control group, the distribution of the AHSG gene did not show significant association between low serum fetuin-A levels and the Ser/Ser genotype, known to be associated with a higher CV mortality risk in the HD population. Moreover, the distribution of AHSG gene polymorphisms in HD patients and in healthy controls was similar. Conclusions: In contrast with previous reports, this study suggests that CKD patients on HD treatment have a similar polymorphism distribution of the AHSG gene compared with the normal population and that the reduction in serum fetuin-A levels in Italian HD patients is not associated with an alteration in the distribution of AHSG T256S polymorphisms.

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          Association of low fetuin-A (AHSG) concentrations in serum with cardiovascular mortality in patients on dialysis: a cross-sectional study.

          Vascular calcification is the most prominent underlying pathological finding in patients with uraemia, and is a predictor of mortality in this population. Fetuin-A (alpha2-Heremans Schmid glycoprotein; AHSG) is an important circulating inhibitor of calcification in vivo, and is downregulated during the acute-phase response. We aimed to investigate the hypothesis that AHSG deficiency is directly related to uraemic vascular calcification. We did a cross-sectional study in 312 stable patients on haemodialysis to analyse the inter-relation of AHSG and C-reactive protein (CRP) and their predictive effect on all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, over a period of 32 months. Subsequently, we tested the capacity of serum to inhibit CaxPO4 precipitation in patients on long-term dialysis (n=17) with apparent soft-tissue calcifications, and in those on short-term dialysis (n=8) without evidence of calcifications and cardiovascular disease. AHSG concentrations in serum were significantly lower in patients on haemodialysis (mean 0.66 g/L [SD 0.28]) than in healthy controls (0.72 [0.19]). Low concentrations of the glycoprotein were associated with raised amounts of CRP and with enhanced cardiovascular (p=0.031) and all-cause mortality (p=0.0013). Sera from patients on long-term dialysis with low AHSG concentrations showed impaired ex-vivo capacity to inhibit CaxPO4 precipitation (mean IC50: 9.0 microL serum [SD 3.1] vs 7.5 [0.8] in short-term patients and 6.4 [2.6] in controls). Reconstitution of sera with purified AHSG returned this impairment to normal. Interpretation AHSG deficiency is associated with inflammation and links vascular calcification to mortality in patients on dialysis. Activated acute-phase response and AHSG deficiency might account for accelerated atherosclerosis in uraemia.
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            Arterial stiffening and vascular calcifications in end-stage renal disease.

            Epidemiological studies have identified aortic stiffness as an independent predictor of cardiovascular mortality in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. In these patients, aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) was associated with mediacalcosis, but the influence of arterial calcifications on the viscoelastic properties of large arteries was not well characterized. The purpose of the present study was to analyse the influence of arterial calcifications on arterial stiffness in stable haemodialysed patients. We studied 120 stable ESRD patients on haemodialysis. All patients underwent B-mode ultrasonography of common carotid artery (CCA), aorta, and femoral arteries to determine CCA distensibility, the elastic incremental modulus (Einc), and the presence of vascular calcifications. All patients underwent measurement of aortic PWV and echocardiogram. The presence of calcifications was analysed semiquantitatively as a score (0 to 4) according to the number of arterial sites with calcifications. Our observations indicate that arterial and aortic stiffness is significantly influenced by the presence and extent of arterial calcifications. The extent of arterial calcifications is in part responsible for increased left ventricular afterload, and is inversely correlated with stroke volume. The influence of calcifications is independent of the role of ageing and blood pressure. Arterial calcifications density increases with age, duration of haemodialysis, the fibrinogen level, and the prescribed dose of calcium-based phosphate binders. The results of this study showed that the presence of vascular calcifications in ESRD patients was associated with increased stiffness of large capacity, elastic-type arteries, like the aorta and CCA. The extent of arterial calcifications increased with the use of calcium-based phosphate-binders.
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              Pathogenesis of vascular calcification in chronic kidney disease.

              Pathogenesis of vascular calcification in chronic kidney disease. Background. Hyperphosphatemia and hypercalcemia are independent risk factors for higher incidence of cardiovascular events in patients with chronic kidney disease. In addition to increased calcium-phosphate product, hyperphosphatemia accelerates the progression of secondary hyperparathyroidism with the concomitant bone loss, possibly linked to vascular calcium-phosphate precipitation. Results. The control of serum phosphate levels reduces vascular calcification not only by decreasing the degree of secondary hyperparathyroidism and calcium-phosphate product, but also by reducing the expression of proteins responsible for active bone mineral deposition in cells of the vasculature. The calcium and aluminum-free phosphate-binders provide a new and effective therapeutic tool in preventing vascular calcifications in chronic kidney disease in animal models and in hemodialysis patients. Conclusion. Additional investigations are necessary to examine the benefits of different phosphate-binders in reducing mortality from cardiovascular disease.

                Author and article information

                Am J Nephrol
                American Journal of Nephrology
                S. Karger AG
                October 2007
                11 September 2007
                : 27
                : 6
                : 639-642
                aRenal Division, and bClinical Chemistry and Microbiology, S. Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Milan, Italy
                108360 Am J Nephrol 2007;27:639–642
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, References: 16, Pages: 4
                Original Report: Laboratory Investigation


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