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Semin Nephrol. 2006 Jul;26(4):283-9.

Role of anemia in progression of chronic kidney disease.

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Paris-Descartes University School of Medicine, Paris, France.


Anemia is a well-known consequence of chronic kidney disease (CKD), and its prevalence progressively increases when the estimated glomerular filtration rate decreases to less than 60 mL/min/1.73 m2. However, analyses of the consequences of anemia and of the mechanisms of progression of CKD suggest that anemia also could contribute to the deterioration of kidney function. This hypothesis is based mostly on experimental data that imply that hypoxia of tubular cells plays an important role in tubulointerstitial damage associated with CKD and, thus, in the progression of renal failure. It also is supported by the fact that red blood cells represent a major antioxidant component of blood and that oxidative stress appears to contribute to glomerulosclerosis and tubulointerstitial damage. In humans, post hoc analysis of the Reduction of End points in non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) with the Angiotensin II Antagonist Losartan study and analyses of smaller prospective cohorts of CKD patients have shown that anemia is an independent risk factor for progression of CKD. In addition, 3 small randomized studies have suggested that anemia correction could slow the progression of CKD. Thus, the existence of a relationship between anemia and progression of CKD is not only plausible biologically, but also is supported by observational studies and by small intervention studies. However, only a large, randomized, prospective trial will be able to establish if anemia correction can slow the progression of CKD effectively.

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