23 February 2000
In hemodialysis patients, C-reactive protein (CRP), an acute-phase reactant, is a sensitive and independent marker of malnutrition, anemia, and amyloidosis. The aim of the present studies was to evaluate CRP and interleukin 6 levels in plasma samples from long-term hemodialysis patients on different extracorporeal modalities associated with or without backfiltration. Two hundred and forty-seven patients were recruited in eight hospital-based centers. All patients had been on their dialytic modality for at least 6 months. At enrollment, 46 hemodialysis patients out of 247 (18.6%) had clinical evidence of pathologies known to be associated with high CRP values. The 201 remaining patients were defined as clinically stable and were on conventional hemodialysis (34%), hemodiafiltration with infusion volumes <10 liters/session (10%), hemodiafiltration with infusion volumes <20 liters/session (32%), and double-chamber hemodiafiltration with infusion volumes <10 liters/session (22%). Analysis of CRP values in the clinically stable patients showed that an unexpectedly high proportion (47%) of the patients had CRP values higher than 5 mg/l (taken as the upper limit in normal human subjects). The values of CRP and interleukin 6 were significantly higher in hemodiafiltration with infusion volumes <10 liters/session than in hemodiafiltration with infusion volumes >20 liters/session, in hemodialysis and in double-chamber hemodiafiltration. The same pattern occurred after 6 months of follow-up in 171 out of 201 clinically stable patients. Hemodialytic conditions that expose to the risk of backfiltration such as low exchange volume hemodiafiltration may induce a chronic inflammatory state as reflected by increased plasma values of both CRP and interleukin 6, thus suggesting the need for hemodialytic strategies that reduce (hemodialysis with low-permeability membranes or hemodiafiltration with infusion volumes >20 liters) or eliminate (double-chamber hemodiafiltration) backfiltration of bacteria-derived contaminants.