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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2009 Dec;4 Suppl 1:S56-63. doi: 10.2215/CJN.03090509.

Biochemistry and biomarkers of inflamed patients: why look, what to assess.

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Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Specific laboratory tests and physical findings are available to the practicing clinician that should raise the suspicion of inflammation. Inflammation is related to specific clinical outcomes. Once identified, changes in clinical practice may affect the level of inflammation in individual and or groups of dialysis patients with the hope that these changes may in turn affect outcome in a positive manner. Standard clinical tests and observations associated with inflammation are hypoalbuminemia, erythropoietin resistance, decreased iron saturation accompanied by high ferritin, frailty, low serum creatinine, reduced total and LDL-cholesterol, and increased C reactive protein (CRP). Inflammation is strongly associated with loss of physical function, dyslipidemia (low LDL- and HDL-cholesterol, increased triglycerides), and anemia that is unresponsive to erythropoietin. Inflammation is associated with cardiovascular events, increased hospitalization, and death. Correctible causes of inflammation are tunneled dialysis catheters, arteriovenous grafts, catheter infection, periodontal disease, poor water quality, and dialyzer incompatibility. Obesity also is a source of cytokines but may be less amenable to treatment. Inflammation is multifactorial in dialysis patients. Some sources are recognizable and correctable, such as vascular access type, clinical infection, and water quality, and some are not. Inflammation is strongly associated with outcome.

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