03 August 2000
Cardiovascular complications caused by an accelerated atherosclerotic disease represent the largest single cause of mortality in chronic renal failure patients. The rapidly developing atherosclerosis of the uremic syndrome appears to be caused by a synergism of different mechanisms, such as malnutrition, oxidative stress and genetic factors. Recent studies provide evidence that chronic inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases. Elevated serum levels of plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) are associated with an increased risk of experiencing myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death in apparently healthy subjects. Several recently published papers have confirmed this strong association between CRP and the extent and severity of the atherosclerotic processes. In patients affected by predialytic renal failure, increased levels of CRP and interleukin (IL)-6 were recorded in 25% of our population; CRP and IL-6 were inversely related with renal function. These data suggest the activation – even in the predialytic phase of renal failure – of mechanisms known to contribute to the enhanced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality of the uremic syndrome. In recent years we have investigated the hypothesis that the chronic inflammatory state of the uremic patient could at least in part be due to the dialytic technique. We provide evidence suggesting that the increase of CRP in stable dialytic patients may be due to the stimulation of monocyte/macrophage by backfiltration of dialysate contaminants.