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PLoS One. 2017 Oct 3;12(10):e0185853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185853. eCollection 2017.

Low serum phosphate as an independent predictor of increased infection-related mortality in dialysis patients: A prospective multicenter cohort study.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Kyungpook National University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea.
Clinical Research Center for End Stage Renal Disease, Daegu, Korea.
Department of Statistics, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.



The role of mineral metabolism in mortality among dialysis patients has received increased attention, but some aspects remain unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prognostic value of serum calcium and phosphate levels for all-cause mortality and cause-specific mortality in dialysis patients.


Patients on hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis were enrolled from a multicenter prospective cohort study in Korea (NCT00931970). The patients were divided into low, normal, and high groups according to their baseline serum calcium or phosphate levels. Cox proportional analysis and a proportional hazards model for the subdistribution of a competing risk were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) for the association of serum calcium and phosphate levels with all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Time-dependent values of calcium and phosphate were also evaluated to assess the effect of longitudinal change in mineral metabolism parameters on mortality types.


A total of 3,226 dialysis patients were followed up for a mean of 19.8 ± 8.2 months. Infection was the most common cause of death. Low serum phosphate was significantly associated with all-cause and infection-related death using time-dependent values (HR, 1.43 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.06-1.93], P = 0.02, and HR, 1.66 [95% CI, 1.02-2.70], P = 0.04, respectively). Low serum phosphate was associated with significantly higher infection-related mortality, especially in patients older than 65 years or on dialysis more than one year or with serum albumin lower than 3.9 g/dL (HR, 2.06 [95% CI, 1.13-3.75], P = 0.02, HR, 2.19 [95% CI, 1.20-4.01], P = 0.01, and HR, 1.77 [95% CI, 1.00-3.13], P = 0.05, respectively). Multinomial logistic regression analysis results suggested that low serum albumin, creatinine, and body mass index correlated with low serum phosphate.


Low serum phosphate in dialysis patients was an independent risk factor for infection-related death, especially in elderly patients. Persistently low serum phosphate might be a nutritional biomarker to predict increased susceptibility to infection and in turn worse outcomes in dialysis patients.

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