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      Cause and Consequences of Sympathetic Hyperactivity in Chronic Kidney Disease

      Blood Purification

      S. Karger AG

      Chronic kidney disease, Sympathetic nervous system, Muscle sympathetic nerve activity, Moxonidine, Rilmenidine

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          Patients with chronic kidney disease and patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment show a sustained overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, which originates from signals arising in the failing kidneys and traveling via afferent renal nerves to cardiovascular centers in the brainstem. Additional important factors are increased levels of angiotensin II and asymmetrical dimethylarginine. The sympathetic overactivity contributes to hypertension and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in that patient population. Sympathetic overactivity can be reduced by adrenergic receptor blockers, centrally acting sympathicolytic drugs such as moxonidine and rilmenidine, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition, and angiotensin II type 1 receptor antagonists. Daily short hemodialysis and long nocturnal hemodialysis may reduce the elevated sympathetic activity, possibly because of an increased clearance of asymmetrical dimethylarginine, an endogenous nitric oxide synthase inhibitor. Prospective trials examining the potential impact of both β-blockers and centrally acting sympatholytic drugs on cardiovascular mortality in chronic kid ney disease and hemodialysis patients are very much needed.

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          Most cited references 18

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          Sympathetic overactivity in patients with chronic renal failure.

          Hypertension is a frequent complication of chronic renal failure, but its causes are not fully understood. There is indirect evidence that increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system might contribute to hypertension in patients with end-stage renal disease, but sympathetic-nerve discharge has not been measured directly in patients or animals with chronic renal failure. We recorded the rate of postganglionic sympathetic-nerve discharge to the blood vessels in skeletal muscle by means of microelectrodes inserted into the peroneal nerve in 18 patients with native kidneys who were undergoing long-term treatment with hemodialysis (of whom 14 had hypertension), 5 patients receiving hemodialysis who had undergone bilateral nephrectomy (of whom 1 had hypertension), and 11 normal subjects. RESULTS. The mean (+/- SE) rate of sympathetic-nerve discharge was 2.5 times higher in the patients receiving hemodialysis who had not undergone nephrectomy than in the normal subjects (58 +/- 3 vs. 23 +/- 3 bursts per minute, P < 0.01). In contrast, the rate of sympathetic-nerve discharge was similar in the patients receiving hemodialysis who had undergone bilateral nephrectomy (21 +/- 6 bursts per minute) and the normal subjects. The rate of sympathetic-nerve discharge in the patients receiving hemodialysis who had not undergone nephrectomy was also significantly higher (P < 0.01) than that in the patients with bilateral nephrectomy, and it was accompanied in the former group by higher values for vascular resistance in the calf (45 +/- 4 vs. 22 +/- 4 units, P < 0.05) and mean arterial pressure (106 +/- 4 vs. 76 +/- 14 mm Hg, P < 0.05). The rate of sympathetic-nerve discharge was not correlated with either plasma norepinephrine concentrations or plasma renin activity. Chronic renal failure may be accompanied by reversible sympathetic activation, which appears to be mediated by an afferent signal arising in the failing kidneys.
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            Plasma norepinephrine predicts survival and incident cardiovascular events in patients with end-stage renal disease.

            Sympathetic tone is consistently raised in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We therefore tested the hypothesis that sympathetic activation is associated with mortality and cardiovascular events in a cohort of 228 patients undergoing chronic hemodialysis who did not have congestive heart failure at baseline and who had left ventricular ejection fraction >35%. The plasma concentration of norepinephrine (NE) was used as a measure of sympathetic activity. Plasma NE exceeded the upper limit of the normal range (cutoff 3.54 nmol/L) in 102 dialysis patients (45%). In a multivariate Cox regression model that included all univariate predictors of death as well as the use of sympathicoplegic agents and beta-blockers, plasma NE proved to be an independent predictor of this outcome (hazard ratio [1-nmol/L increase in plasma NE]: 1.07, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.14, P=0.03). Similarly, plasma NE emerged as an independent predictor of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events (hazard ratio [1-nmol/L increase in plasma NE] 1.08, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.15, P=0.01) in a model that included previous cardiovascular events, pulse pressure, age, diabetes, smoking, and use of sympathicoplegic agents and beta-blockers. The adjusted relative risk for cardiovascular complications in patients with plasma NE >75th percentile was 1.92 (95% CI 1.20 to 3.07) times higher than in those below this threshold (P=0.006). Sympathetic nerve overactivity is associated with mortality and cardiovascular outcomes in ESRD. Controlled trials with antiadrenergic drugs are needed to determine whether interference with the sympathetic system could reduce the high cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in dialysis patients.
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              Reduction of sympathetic hyperactivity by enalapril in patients with chronic renal failure.

              Inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems in patients with chronic renal failure. This effect may be due in part to a decrease in sympathetic nervous activity, but no direct evidence of such an action is available. We studied muscle sympathetic-nerve activity in 14 patients with hypertension, chronic renal failure, and increased plasma renin activity before, during, and after administration of the ACE inhibitor enalapril. Ten other patients with similar clinical characteristics were studied before and during treatment with the calcium-channel blocker amlodipine. Normal subjects matched for age and weight were included in both studies. At base line, mean (+/-SD) muscle sympathetic-nerve activity was higher in the group of patients who received enalapril than in the control subjects (35+/-17 vs. 19+/-9 bursts per minute, P=0.004). The baroreflex curve, which reflects changes in muscle sympathetic-nerve activity caused by manipulations of blood pressure with sodium nitroprusside and phenylephrine, was shifted to the right in the patients, but baroreflex sensitivity was similar to that in the control subjects (-2.1+/-1.9 and -2.7+/-1.3 bursts per minute per mm Hg, respectively; P=0.36). A single dose of the sympatholytic drug clonidine caused a greater fall in blood pressure in the patients than in the control subjects. Treatment with enalapril normalized blood pressure and muscle sympathetic-nerve activity (at 23+/-10 bursts per minute) in the patients and shifted the baroreflex curve to the left, reflecting normal blood-pressure levels, without significantly changing sensitivity (-2.3+/-1.8 bursts per minute per mm Hg, P=0.96). In the patients who received amlodipine, treatment also lowered blood pressure but increased muscle sympathetic-nerve activity, from 41+/-19 to 56+/-14 bursts per minute (P=0.02). Increased sympathetic activity contributes to hypertension in patients with chronic renal disease. ACE inhibition controls hypertension and decreases sympathetic hyperactivity.

                Author and article information

                Blood Purif
                Blood Purification
                S. Karger AG
                December 2005
                23 December 2005
                : 24
                : 1
                : 95-99
                Renal Research Institute, New York, N.Y., USA
                89444 Blood Purif 2006;24:95–99
                © 2006 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, References: 27, Pages: 5
                Self URI (application/pdf): https://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/89444


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