BACKGROUND: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a frequent complication in chronic haemodialysis (HD) patients. Endothelial dysfunction, as measured by soluble cellular adhesion molecules (sCAM) and von Willebrand factor (vWf) in plasma, is an early manifestation of CVD. Today, it is unknown if, and to what extent, their levels are influenced by the type of dialyser.
METHODS: Four dialysers, low-flux cuprammonium (CU); high-flux and low-flux polysulfone and super-flux polyethersulfone, were compared in 15 chronic HD patients in a randomized cross-over fashion. sCAM and vWf were measured at baseline as well as after 4 weeks, and both intra-dialytical and after 24 h (t24 h). Twenty healthy subjects served as controls.
RESULTS: Baseline levels were considerably higher in chronic HD patients than in controls (soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1: sICAM-1 732+/-216 vs 572+/-259 ng/ml, P = 0.06; soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1: sVCAM-1 1917+/-492 vs 1126+/-338 ng/ml, P<0.001; vWF: 205+/-55% vs 98+/-52%, P<0.001). After 4 weeks, no changes were observed. During and after HD, sCAM did not change, except in the case of CU (sICAM-1: 719+/-259 to 772+/-261 ng/ml, P = 0.04). CU induced a rise in vWF directly after HD (t4 h; from 188+/-48% to 255+/-92%, P<0.01), whereas all modalities induced a significant increase at t24 h (mean 228+/-54%, P = 0.02). The levels of sCAM and vWf appeared to be dependent on the individual patients rather than on the type of dialyser (explained variance by different patients: 66%-91%, P<0.001; by type of dialyser 0.4-1.2%).
CONCLUSIONS: Baseline levels of sCAM and vWf were markedly higher in chronic HD patients than in controls and did not change after 4 weeks with any dialyser. All membranes induced a marked rise in vWf at t24 h, whereas sICAM-1 increased only in the case of CU at t4 h. As sCAM showed no marked changes during HD with any other modality, our study suggests activation of blood cells rather than endothelial cells. As pre-dialysis levels of sCAM and vWf varied noticeably between individual patients, endothelial dysfunction seems to be far more dependent on patient-related factors than on the HD treatment itself.