19 December 2006
Background: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality in hemodialysis (HD). An elevated incidence of cardiovascular calcifications (CVC) is observed in HD. Fetuin-A is an important inhibitor of CVC. Reduced fetuin-A levels associate with inflammation and increased cardiovascular (CV) mortality in HD. In this study we investigated the association of fetuin-A levels and CVC. Method: We evaluated a cohort of 115 patients (67 males), aged 63 ± 16 years with a HD vintage ≧9 months. Presence of CVC was assessed by ultrasound imaging of the abdominal aorta, common carotid arteries, bilateral ilio-femoral axis, aortic and mitral cardiac valves. The presence of CVC was analyzed as a CVC score (CVCS) (0–7) according to the number of CVC sites. Patients were arbitrary stratified in three groups: group I (CVCS = 0), group II (0 < CVCS < 6) and group III (CVCS ≧ 6). Patients without CVC were younger, non-diabetic and with a negative history for CV events. Results: Patients with evidence of CVC in more than 5 sites had lower serum fetuin-A levels (0.41 ± 0.22 g/l) compared to patients with CVCS = 0 (0.51 ± 0.17 g/l, p = 0.048). In addition a worse CVCS was associated with higher serum levels of C-reactive protein (p = 0.002) and fibrinogen (p < 0.001). Serum fetuin-A levels lower than 0.290 g/l were associated with higher risk of a worse CVCS, independently from traditional risk factors. Conclusion: Chronic inflammation in HD patients leads to lower serum fetuin-A levels. The present study confirms the independent and significant association between reduced serum fetuin-A levels and multi-site CVC in HD.