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1.  Do aluminium-based phosphate binders continue to have a role in contemporary nephrology practice? 
BMC Nephrology  2011;12:20.
Background
Aluminium-containing phosphate binders have long been used for treatment of hyperphosphatemia in dialysis patients. Their safety became controversial in the early 1980's after reports of aluminium related neurological and bone disease began to appear. Available historical evidence however, suggests that neurological toxicity may have primarily been caused by excessive exposure to aluminium in dialysis fluid, rather than aluminium-containing oral phosphate binders. Limited evidence suggests that aluminium bone disease may also be on the decline in the era of aluminium removal from dialysis fluid, even with continued use of aluminium binders.
Discussion
The K/DOQI and KDIGO guidelines both suggest avoiding aluminium-containing binders. These guidelines will tend to promote the use of the newer, more expensive binders (lanthanum, sevelamer), which have limited evidence for benefit and, like aluminium, limited long-term safety data. Treating hyperphosphatemia in dialysis patients continues to represent a major challenge, and there is a large body of evidence linking serum phosphate concentrations with mortality. Most nephrologists agree that phosphate binders have the potential to meaningfully reduce mortality in dialysis patients. Aluminium is one of the cheapest, most effective and well tolerated of the class, however there are no prospective or randomised trials examining the efficacy and safety of aluminium as a binder. Aluminium continues to be used as a binder in Australia as well as some other countries, despite concern about the potential for toxicity. There are some data from selected case series that aluminium bone disease may be declining in the era of reduced aluminium content in dialysis fluid, due to rigorous water testing.
Summary
This paper seeks to revisit the contemporary evidence for the safety record of aluminium-containing binders in dialysis patients. It puts their use into the context of the newer, more expensive binders and increasing concerns about the risks of calcium binders, which continue to be widely used. The paper seeks to answer whether the continued use of aluminium is justifiable in the absence of prospective data establishing its safety, and we call for prospective trials to be conducted comparing the available binders both in terms of efficacy and safety.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-12-20
PMCID: PMC3107169  PMID: 21569446
2.  Intravenous versus oral iron supplementation for correction of post-transplant anaemia in renal transplant patients 
BMC Nephrology  2009;10:14.
Background
Post-transplant anaemia remains a common problem after kidney transplantation, with an incidence ranging from nearly 80% at day 0 to about 25% at 1 year. It has been associated with poor graft outcome, and recently has also been shown to be associated with increased mortality.
Our transplant unit routinely administers oral iron supplements to renal transplant recipients but this is frequently accompanied by side effects, mainly gastrointestinal intolerance. Intravenous iron is frequently administered to dialysis patients and we sought to investigate this mode of administration in transplant recipients after noticing less anaemia in several patients who had received intravenous iron just prior to being called in for transplantation.
Methods
This study is a single-centre, prospective, open-label, randomised, controlled trial of oral versus intravenous iron supplements in renal transplant recipients and aims to recruit approximately 100 patients over a 12-month period. Patients will be randomised to receive a single dose of 500 mg iron polymaltose (intravenous iron group) or 2 ferrous sulphate slow-release tablets daily (oral iron group). The primary outcome is time to normalisation of haemoglobin post-transplant. Prospective power calculations have indicated that a minimum of 48 patients in each group would have to be followed up for 3 months in order to have a 90% probability of detecting a halving of the time to correction of haemoglobin levels to ≥110 g/l in iron-treated patients, assuming an α of 0.05. All eligible adult patients undergoing renal transplantation at the Princess Alexandra Hospital will be offered participation in the trial. Exclusion criteria will include iron overload (transferrin saturation >50% or ferritin >800 μg/l), or previous intolerance of either oral or intravenous iron supplements.
Discussion
If the trial shows a reduction in the time to correction of anaemia with intravenous iron or less side effects than oral iron, then intravenous iron may become the standard of treatment in this patient group.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-10-14
PMCID: PMC2701932  PMID: 19500381
3.  The impact of automated eGFR reporting and education on nephrology service referrals 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2008;23(12):3845-3850.
Background. Serum creatinine concentration is an unreliable and insensitive marker of chronic kidney disease (CKD). To improve CKD detection, the Australasian Creatinine Consensus Working Committee recommended reporting of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) using the four-variable Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula with every request for serum creatinine concentration. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of automated laboratory reporting of eGFR on the quantity and quality of referrals to nephrology services in Southeast Queensland, Australia.
Methods. Outpatient referrals to a tertiary and regional renal service, and a single private practice were prospectively audited over 3–12 months prior to and 12 months following the introduction of automated eGFR reporting and concomitant clinician education. The appropriateness of referrals to a nephrologist was assessed according to the Kidney Check Australia Taskforce (KCAT) criteria. Significant changes in the quantity and/or quality of referrals over time were analysed by exponentially weighed moving average (EWMA) charts with control limits based on ±3 standard deviations.
Results. A total of 1019 patients were referred to the centres during the study period. Monthly referrals overall increased by 40% following the introduction of eGFR reporting, and this was most marked for the tertiary renal service (52% above baseline). The appropriateness of nephrologist referrals, as adjudicated by the KCAT criteria, fell significantly from 74.3% in the 3 months pre-eGFR reporting to 65.2% in the 12 months thereafter (P < 0.05). Nevertheless, a greater absolute number of CKD patients were appropriately being referred for nephrologist review in the post-eGFR period (24 versus 15 per month). Patients referred following the introduction of eGFR were significantly more likely to be older (median 63.2 versus 59.3 years, P < 0.05), diabetic (25 versus 18%, P = 0.05) and have stage 3 CKD (48% versus 36%, P < 0.01).
Conclusion. The introduction of automated eGFR calculation has led to an overall increase in referrals with a small but significant decrease in referral quality. The increase in referrals was seen predominantly in older and diabetic patients with stage 3 CKD and appeared to result in net benefit.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gfn385
PMCID: PMC2639066  PMID: 18632591
chronic kidney disease; Cockcroft–Gault equation; glomerular filtration rate; Modification of Diet in Renal Disease equation; serum creatinine
4.  Cardiac and vascular structure and function parameters do not improve with alternate nightly home hemodialysis: An interventional cohort study 
BMC Nephrology  2011;12:51.
Background
Nightly extended hours hemodialysis may improve left ventricular hypertrophy and function and endothelial function but presents problems of sustainability and increased cost. The effect of alternate nightly home hemodialysis (NHD) on cardiovascular structure and function is not known.
Methods
Sixty-three patients on standard hemodialysis (SHD: 3.5-6 hours/session, 3-5 sessions weekly) converted to NHD (6-10 hours/session overnight for 3-5 sessions weekly). 2Dimensional transthoracic echocardiography and ultrasound measures of brachial artery reactivity (BAR), carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), total arterial compliance (TAC) and augmentation index (AIX) were performed post dialysis at baseline and 18-24 months following conversion to NHD. In 37 patients, indices of oxidative stress: plasma malonyldialdehyde (MDA) and anti-oxidant enzymes: catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity and total antioxidant status (TAS) were measured at baseline, 3 and 6 months.
Results
Left ventricular mass index (LVMI) remained stable. Despite significant derangement at baseline, there were no changes in diastolic function measures, CIMT, BAR and TAC. AIX increased. Conversion to NHD improved bone mineral metabolism parameters and blood pressure control. Interdialytic weight gains increased. No definite improvements in measures of oxidative stress were demonstrated.
Conclusions
Despite improvement in uremic toxin levels and some cardiovascular risk factors, conversion to an alternate nightly NHD regimen did not improve cardiovascular structure and function. Continuing suboptimal control of uremic toxins and interdialytic weight gains may be a possible explanation. This study adds to the increasing uncertainty about the nature of improvement in cardiovascular parameters with conversion to intensive hemodialysis regimens. Future randomized controlled trials will be important to determine whether increases in dialysis session duration, frequency or both are most beneficial for improving cardiovascular disease whilst minimizing costs and the impact of dialysis on quality of life.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-12-51
PMCID: PMC3202231  PMID: 21962236
Diastolic Function; Ejection Fraction; Left Ventricular Mass Index; Left Ventricular Hypertrophy; Nocturnal Hemodialysis; Carotid Intima-Media Thickness; Oxidative Stress; Arterial Compliance
5.  Rationale and design of the HEALTHY-CATH trial: A randomised controlled trial of Heparin versus EthAnol Lock THerapY for the prevention of Catheter Associated infecTion in Haemodialysis patients 
BMC Nephrology  2009;10:23.
Background
Catheter-related bacteraemias (CRBs) contribute significantly to morbidity, mortality and health care costs in dialysis populations. Despite international guidelines recommending avoidance of catheters for haemodialysis access, hospital admissions for CRBs have doubled in the last decade. The primary aim of the study is to determine whether weekly instillation of 70% ethanol prevents CRBs compared with standard heparin saline.
Methods/design
The study will follow a prospective, open-label, randomized controlled design. Inclusion criteria are adult patients with incident or prevalent tunneled intravenous dialysis catheters on three times weekly haemodialysis, with no current evidence of catheter infection and no personal, cultural or religious objection to ethanol use, who are on adequate contraception and are able to give informed consent. Patients will be randomized 1:1 to receive 3 mL of intravenous-grade 70% ethanol into each lumen of the catheter once a week and standard heparin locks for other dialysis days, or to receive heparin locks only. The primary outcome measure will be time to the first episode of CRB, which will be defined using standard objective criteria. Secondary outcomes will include adverse reactions, incidence of CRB caused by different pathogens, time to infection-related catheter removal, time to exit site infections and costs. Prospective power calculations indicate that the study will have 80% statistical power to detect a clinically significant increase in median infection-free survival from 200 days to 400 days if 56 patients are recruited into each arm.
Discussion
This investigator-initiated study has been designed to provide evidence to help nephrologists reduce the incidence of CRBs in haemodialysis patients with tunnelled intravenous catheters.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry Number: ACTRN12609000493246
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-10-23
PMCID: PMC2738669  PMID: 19691852
6.  Rationale and design of the oral HEMe iron polypeptide Against Treatment with Oral Controlled Release Iron Tablets trial for the correction of anaemia in peritoneal dialysis patients (HEMATOCRIT trial) 
BMC Nephrology  2009;10:20.
Background
The main hypothesis of this study is that oral heme iron polypeptide (HIP; Proferrin® ES) administration will more effectively augment iron stores in erythropoietic stimulatory agent (ESA)-treated peritoneal dialysis (PD) patients than conventional oral iron supplementation (Ferrogradumet®).
Methods
Inclusion criteria are peritoneal dialysis patients treated with darbepoietin alpha (DPO; Aranesp®, Amgen) for ≥ 1 month. Patients will be randomized 1:1 to receive either slow-release ferrous sulphate (1 tablet twice daily; control) or HIP (1 tablet twice daily) for a period of 6 months. The study will follow an open-label design but outcome assessors will be blinded to study treatment. During the 6-month study period, haemoglobin levels will be measured monthly and iron studies (including transferring saturation [TSAT] measurements) will be performed bi-monthly. The primary outcome measure will be the difference in TSAT levels between the 2 groups at the end of the 6 month study period, adjusted for baseline values using analysis of covariance (ANCOVA). Secondary outcome measures will include serum ferritin concentration, haemoglobin level, DPO dosage, Key's index (DPO dosage divided by haemoglobin concentration), and occurrence of adverse events (especially gastrointestinal adverse events).
Discussion
This investigator-initiated multicentre study has been designed to provide evidence to help nephrologists and their peritoneal dialysis patients determine whether HIP administration more effectively augments iron stores in ESP-treated PD patients than conventional oral iron supplementation.
Trial Registration
Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number ACTRN12609000432213.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-10-20
PMCID: PMC2723098  PMID: 19635169
7.  The Caenorhabditis elegans Myc-Mondo/Mad Complexes Integrate Diverse Longevity Signals 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(4):e1004278.
The Myc family of transcription factors regulates a variety of biological processes, including the cell cycle, growth, proliferation, metabolism, and apoptosis. In Caenorhabditis elegans, the “Myc interaction network” consists of two opposing heterodimeric complexes with antagonistic functions in transcriptional control: the Myc-Mondo:Mlx transcriptional activation complex and the Mad:Max transcriptional repression complex. In C. elegans, Mondo, Mlx, Mad, and Max are encoded by mml-1, mxl-2, mdl-1, and mxl-1, respectively. Here we show a similar antagonistic role for the C. elegans Myc-Mondo and Mad complexes in longevity control. Loss of mml-1 or mxl-2 shortens C. elegans lifespan. In contrast, loss of mdl-1 or mxl-1 increases longevity, dependent upon MML-1:MXL-2. The MML-1:MXL-2 and MDL-1:MXL-1 complexes function in both the insulin signaling and dietary restriction pathways. Furthermore, decreased insulin-like/IGF-1 signaling (ILS) or conditions of dietary restriction increase the accumulation of MML-1, consistent with the notion that the Myc family members function as sensors of metabolic status. Additionally, we find that Myc family members are regulated by distinct mechanisms, which would allow for integrated control of gene expression from diverse signals of metabolic status. We compared putative target genes based on ChIP-sequencing data in the modENCODE project and found significant overlap in genomic DNA binding between the major effectors of ILS (DAF-16/FoxO), DR (PHA-4/FoxA), and Myc family (MDL-1/Mad/Mxd) at common target genes, which suggests that diverse signals of metabolic status converge on overlapping transcriptional programs that influence aging. Consistent with this, there is over-enrichment at these common targets for genes that function in lifespan, stress response, and carbohydrate metabolism. Additionally, we find that Myc family members are also involved in stress response and the maintenance of protein homeostasis. Collectively, these findings indicate that Myc family members integrate diverse signals of metabolic status, to coordinate overlapping metabolic and cytoprotective transcriptional programs that determine the progression of aging.
Author Summary
Transcription factors are essential proteins that regulate the expression of genes and play an important role in most biological processes. The results of our study presented here demonstrate for the first time a role in aging for a small family of transcription factors in the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. Importantly, these proteins have close relatives in higher organisms, including humans that influence metabolism, cell replication, and have been implicated in the development of cancer. Moreover, the loss of one homologue has also been implicated in Williams-Beuren syndrome, a disease characterized in part by signs of premature aging. Our data demonstrate that these transcription factors function within insulin/IGF-1 signaling and dietary restriction, two highly conserved pathways that link nutrient sensing to longevity. Taken together, our findings provide exciting new insight into a family of proteins that may be essential for linking nutrient sensing to longevity and have implications for the improvement of human healthspan.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004278
PMCID: PMC3974684  PMID: 24699255
8.  Dialysate interleukin-6 predicts increasing peritoneal solute transport rate in incident peritoneal dialysis patients 
BMC Nephrology  2014;15:8.
Background
Repeated exposure to peritoneal dialysis (PD) solutions contributes to cumulative intraperitoneal inflammation and peritoneal injury. The present study aimed to explore the capacity of dialysate interleukin-6(IL-6) to a) predict peritoneal membrane function and peritonitis in incident PD patients, and b) to evaluate the influence of neutral pH, low glucose degradation product (GDP) PD solution on dialysate IL-6 levels.
Methods
The study included 88 incident participants from the balANZ trial who had completed 24-months of follow-up. Change in peritoneal solute transport rate (PSTR) and peritonitis were primary outcome measures, and the utility of IL-6 and IL-6 appearance rate (IL-6 AR) in predicting these outcomes was analyzed using multilevel linear regression and Cox proportional hazards models, respectively. Sensitivity analyses were performed by analyzing outcomes in a peritonitis-free cohort (n = 56).
Results
Dialysate IL-6 concentration significantly increased from baseline to 24 months (mean difference 19.07 pg/mL; P < 0.001) but was not affected by the type of PD solution received (P = 0.68). An increase in PSTR from baseline was associated with higher levels of IL-6 (P = 0.004), the use of standard solutions (P = 0.005) and longer PD duration (P < 0.001). Baseline IL-6 level was not associated with a shorter time to first peritonitis (adjusted hazard ratio 1.00, 95% CI 0.99-1.00, P = 0.74). Analysis of IL-6 AR as well as sensitivity analyses in a peritonitis-free cohort yielded comparable results.
Conclusion
Dialysate IL-6 concentration increased with longer PD duration and was a significant, independent predictor of PSTR. The use of biocompatible PD solutions exerted no significant effect on dialysate IL-6 levels but did abrogate the increase in PSTR associated with standard PD solutions. This is the first study to examine the impact of biocompatible solutions on the utility of IL-6 in predicting PSTR and peritonitis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-15-8
PMCID: PMC3893539  PMID: 24410736
Biocompatible; Glucose degradation products; Interleukin-6; Peritoneal dialysis; Peritoneal solute transport rate; Peritonitis
9.  Effects of Climatic Region on Peritonitis Risk, Microbiology, Treatment, and Outcomes: a Multicenter Registry Study 
♦ Background: The impact of climatic variations on peritoneal dialysis (PD)-related peritonitis has not been studied in detail. The aim of the current study was to determine whether various climatic zones influenced the probability of occurrence or the clinical outcomes of peritonitis.
♦ Methods: Using ANZDATA registry data, the study in cluded all Australian patients receiving PD between 1 October 2003 and 31 December 2008. Climatic regions were defined according to the Köppen classification.
♦ Results: The overall peritonitis rate was 0.59 episodes per patient-year. Most of the patients lived in Temperate regions (65%), with others residing in Subtropical (26%), Tropical (6%), and Other climatic regions (Desert, 0.6%; Grassland, 2.3%). Compared with patients in Temperate regions, those in Tropical regions demonstrated significantly higher overall peritonitis rates and a shorter time to a first peritonitis episode [adjusted hazard ratio: 1.15; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01 to 1.31]. Culture-negative peritonitis was significantly less likely in Tropical regions [adjusted odds ratio (OR): 0.42; 95% CI: 0.25 to 0.73]; its occurrence in Subtropical and Other regions was comparable to that in Temperate regions. Fungal peritonitis was independently associated with Tropical regions (OR: 2.18; 95% CI: 1.22 to 3.90) and Other regions (OR: 3.46; 95% CI: 1.73 to 6.91), where rates of antifungal prophylaxis were also lower. Outcomes after first peritonitis episodes were comparable in all groups.
♦ Conclusions: Tropical regions were associated with a higher overall peritonitis rate (including fungal peritonitis) and a shorter time to a first peritonitis episode. Augmented peritonitis prophylactic measures such as antifungal therapy and exit-site care should be considered in PD patients residing in Tropical climates.
doi:10.3747/pdi.2011.00317
PMCID: PMC3598268  PMID: 22942270
Antibiotics; bacteria; climate; fungus; microbiology; peritonitis; outcomes
10.  Effect of Timing of Dialysis Commencement on Clinical Outcomes of Patients with Planned Initiation of Peritoneal Dialysis in the Ideal Trial 
♦ Background: Since the mid-1990s, early dialysis initiation has dramatically increased in many countries. The Initiating Dialysis Early and Late (IDEAL) study demonstrated that, compared with late initiation, planned early initiation of dialysis was associated with comparable clinical outcomes and increased health care costs. Because residual renal function is a key determinant of outcome and is better preserved with peritoneal dialysis (PD), the present pre-specified subgroup analysis of the IDEAL trial examined the effects of early-compared with late-start dialysis on clinical outcomes in patients whose planned therapy at the time of randomization was PD.
♦ Methods: Adults with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of 10 - 15 mL/min/1.73 m2 who planned to be treated with PD were randomly allocated to commence dialysis at an eGFR of 10 - 14 mL/min/1.73 m2 (early start) or 5 - 7 mL/min/1.73 m2 (late start). The primary outcome was all-cause mortality.
♦ Results: Of the 828 IDEAL trial participants, 466 (56%) planned to commence PD and were randomized to early start (n = 233) or late start (n = 233). The median times from randomization to dialysis initiation were, respectively, 2.03 months [interquartile range (IQR):1.67 - 2.30 months] and 7.83 months (IQR: 5.83 - 8.83 months). Death occurred in 102 early-start patients and 96 late-start patients [hazard ratio: 1.04; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.79 - 1.37]. No differences in composite cardiovascular events, composite infectious deaths, or dialysis-associated complications were observed between the groups. Peritonitis rates were 0.73 episodes (95% CI: 0.65 - 0.82 episodes) per patient-year in the early-start group and 0.69 episodes (95% CI: 0.61 - 0.78 episodes) per patient-year in the late-start group (incidence rate ratio: 1.19; 95% CI: 0.86 - 1.65; p = 0.29). The proportion of patients planning to commence PD who actually initiated dialysis with PD was higher in the early-start group (80% vs 70%, p = 0.01).
♦ Conclusion: Early initiation of dialysis in patients with stage 5 chronic kidney disease who planned to be treated with PD was associated with clinical outcomes comparable to those seen with late dialysis initiation. Compared with early-start patients, late-start patients who had chosen PD as their planned dialysis modality were less likely to commence on PD.
doi:10.3747/pdi.2012.00046
PMCID: PMC3524893  PMID: 23212859
Dialysis timing; mortality; outcomes; peritonitis
11.  A Randomized Controlled Trial of Storytelling as a Communication Tool 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77800.
Introduction
Stories may be an effective tool to communicate with patients because of their ability to engage the reader. Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of story booklets compared to standard information sheets for parents of children attending the emergency department (ED) with a child with croup.
Methods
Parents were randomized to receive story booklets (n=208) or standard information sheets (n=205) during their ED visit. The primary outcome was change in anxiety between triage to ED discharge as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted at 1 and 3 days after discharge, then every other day until 9 days (or until resolution of symptoms), and at 1 year. Secondary outcomes included: expected future anxiety, event impact, parental knowledge, satisfaction, decision regret, healthcare utilization, time to symptom resolution.
Results
There was no significant difference in the primary outcome of change in parental anxiety between recruitment and ED discharge (change of 5 points for the story group vs. 6 points for the comparison group, p=0.78). The story group showed significantly greater decision regret regarding their decision to go to the ED (p<0.001): 6.7% of the story group vs. 1.5% of the comparison group strongly disagreed with the statement “I would go for the same choice if I had to do it over again”. The story group reported shorter time to resolution of symptoms (mean 3.7 days story group vs. 4.0 days comparison group, median 3 days both groups; log rank test, p=0.04). No other outcomes were different between study groups.
Conclusions
Stories about parent experiences managing a child with croup did not reduce parental anxiety. The story group showed significantly greater decision regret and quicker time to resolution of symptoms. Further research is needed to better understand whether stories can be effective in improving patient-important outcomes.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials, ISRCTN39642997 (http://www.controlled-trials.com/ISRCTN39642997)
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077800
PMCID: PMC3808406  PMID: 24204974
12.  The Effects of Biocompatible Compared with Standard Peritoneal Dialysis Solutions on Peritonitis Microbiology, Treatment, and Outcomes: the balANZ Trial 
♦ Background: A multicenter, multi-country randomized controlled trial (the balANZ study) recently reported that peritonitis rates significantly improved with the use of neutral-pH peritoneal dialysis (PD) solutions low in glucose degradation products (“biocompatible”) compared with standard solutions. The present paper reports a secondary outcome analysis of the balANZ trial with respect to peritonitis microbiology, treatment, and outcomes.
♦ Methods: Adult incident PD patients with residual renal function were randomized to receive either biocompatible or conventional (control) PD solutions for 2 years.
♦ Results: The safety population analysis for peritonitis included 91 patients in each group. The unadjusted geometric mean peritonitis rates in those groups were 0.30 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.22 to 0.41] episodes per patient-year for the biocompatible group and 0.49 (95% CI: 0.39 to 0.62) episodes per patient-year for the control group [incidence rate ratio (IRR): 0.61; 95% CI: 0.41 to 0.90; p = 0.01]. When specific causative organisms were examined, the rates of culture-negative, gram-positive, gram-negative, and polymicrobial peritonitis episodes were not significantly different between the biocompatible and control groups, although the biocompatible group did experience a significantly lower rate of non-pseudomonal gram-negative peritonitis (IRR: 0.41; 95% CI: 0.18 to 0.92; p = 0.03). Initial empiric antibiotic regimens were comparable between the groups. Biocompatible fluid use did not significantly reduce the risk of peritonitis-associated hospitalization (adjusted odds ratio: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.48 to 1.34), but did result in a shorter median duration of peritonitis-associated hospitalization (6 days vs 11 days, p = 0.05). Peritonitis severity was more likely to be rated as mild in the biocompatible group (37% vs 10%, p = 0.001). Overall peritonitis-associated technique failures and peritonitis-related deaths were comparable in the two groups.
♦ Conclusions: Biocompatible PD fluid use was associated with a broad reduction in gram-positive, gram-negative, and culture-negative peritonitis that reached statistical significance for non-pseudomonal gram-negative organisms. Peritonitis hospitalization duration was shorter, and peritonitis severity was more commonly rated as mild in patients receiving biocompatible PD fluids, although other peritonitis outcomes were comparable between the groups.
doi:10.3747/pdi.2012.00052
PMCID: PMC3524863  PMID: 22991015
Biocompatibility; glucose degradation products; peritonitis; outcomes; randomized controlled trial; technique survival; end-stage renal disease
13.  Weekend Compared with Weekday Presentations of Peritoneal Dialysis-Associated Peritonitis 
♦ Objective: Management of peritoneal dialysis (PD)-associated peritonitis requires timely intervention by experienced staff, which may not be uniformly available throughout the week. The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of weekend compared with weekday presentation on peritonitis outcomes.
♦ Methods: The study, which used data from the Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry, included all Australian patients receiving PD between 1 October 2003 and 31 December 2008. The independent predictors of weekend presentation and subsequent peritonitis outcomes were assessed by multivariate logistic regression.
♦ Results: Peritonitis presentation rates were significantly lower on Saturdays [0.46 episodes per year; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.42 to 0.49 episodes per year] and on Sundays (0.43 episodes per year; 95% CI: 0.40 to 0.47 episodes per year) than all other weekdays; they peaked on Mondays (0.76 episodes per year; 95% CI: 0.72 to 0.81 episodes per year). Weekend presentation with a first episode of peritonitis was independently associated with lower body mass index and residence less than 100 km away from the nearest PD unit. Patients presenting with peritonitis on the weekend were significantly more likely to be hospitalized [adjusted odds ratio (OR): 2.32; 95% CI: 1.85 to 2.90], although microbial profiles and empiric antimicrobial treatments were comparable between the weekend and weekday groups. Antimicrobial cure rates were also comparable (79% vs 79%, p = 0.9), with the exception of cure rates for culture-negative peritonitis, which were lower on the weekend (80% vs 88%, p = 0.047). Antifungal prophylaxis was less likely to be co-prescribed for first peritonitis episodes presenting on weekdays (OR: 0.68; 95% CI: 0.05 to 0.89).
♦ Conclusions: Patients on PD are less likely to present with peritonitis on the weekend. Nevertheless, the microbiology, treatment, and outcomes of weekend and weekday PD peritonitis presentations are remarkably similar. Exceptions include the associations of weekend presentation with a higher hospitalization rate and a lower cure rate in culture-negative infection.
doi:10.3747/pdi.2011.00169
PMCID: PMC3524873  PMID: 22302768
After hours; bacteria; fungus; microbiology; peritonitis; outcomes; temporal variation
14.  Use of high-dose erythropoietin for repair after injury: A comparison of outcomes in heart and kidney 
Journal of Nephropathology  2013;2(3):154-165.
Context: There is a need to define the exact benefits and contraindications of use of high-dose recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO) for its non-hematopoietic function as a cytokine that enhances tissue repair after injury. This review compares the outcomes from use of EPO in the injured heart and kidney, two organs that are thought, traditionally, to have intrinsically-different repair mechanisms.
Evidence Acquisitions: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Google Scholar, Pubmed (NLM), LISTA (EBSCO) and Web of Science have been searched.
Results: Ongoing work by us on EPO protection of ischemia-reperfusion-injured kidneys indicated, first, that EPO acutely enhanced kidney repair via anti-apoptotic, pro-regenerative mechanisms, and second, that EPO may promote chronic fibrosis in the long term. Work by others on the ischaemia-injured heart has also indicated that EPO promotes repair. Although myocardial infarcts are made up mostly of necrotic tissue, many publications state EPO is anti-apoptotic in the heart, as well as promoting healing via cell differentiation and stimulation of granulation tissue. In the case of the heart, promotion of fibrosis may be advantageous where an infarct has destroyed a zone of cardiomyocytes, but if EPO stimulates progressive fibrosis in the heart, this may promote cardiac failure.
Conclusions: A major concern in relation to the use of EPO in a cytoprotective role is its stimulation of long-term inflammation and fibrosis. EPO usage for cytoprotection is undoubtedly advantageous, but it may need to be offset with an anti-inflammatory agent in some organs, like kidney and heart, where progression to chronic fibrosis after acute injury is often recorded.
doi:10.12860/JNP.2013.27
PMCID: PMC3891135  PMID: 24475445
Erythropoietin; Cytokine; Ischemia-reperfusion; Cytoprotection; Heart; Kidney
16.  The beliefs and expectations of patients and caregivers about home haemodialysis: an interview study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(1):e002148.
Objectives
To explore the beliefs and expectations of patients and their caregivers about home haemodialysis in Italy where the prevalence of home haemodialysis is low.
Design
Semistructured, qualitative interview study with purposive sampling and thematic analysis.
Setting
Four dialysis centres in Italy without home haemodialysis services (Bari, Marsala, Nissoria and Taranto).
Participants
22 patients receiving in-centre haemodialysis and 20 of their identified caregivers.
Results
We identified seven major themes that were central to patient and caregiver perceptions of home haemodialysis in regions without established services. Three positive themes were: flexibility and freedom (increased autonomy, minimised wasted time, liberation from strict dialysis schedules and gaining self-worth); comfort in familiar surroundings (family presence and support, avoiding the need for dialysis in hospital) and altruistic motivation to do home haemodialysis as an exemplar for other patients and families. Four negative themes were: disrupting sense of normality; family burden (an onerous responsibility, caregiver uncertainty and panic and visually confronting); housing constraints; healthcare by ‘professionals’ not ‘amateurs’ (relinquishing security and satisfaction with in-centre services) and isolation from peer support.
Conclusions
Patients without direct experience or previous education about home haemodialysis and their caregivers recognise the autonomy of home haemodialysis but are very concerned about the potential burden and personal sacrifice home haemodialysis will impose on caregivers and feel apprehensive about accepting the medical responsibilities of dialysis. To promote acceptance and uptake of home haemodialysis among patients and caregivers who have no experience of home dialysis, effective strategies are needed that provide information about home haemodialysis to patients and their caregivers, assure access to caregiver respite, provide continuous availability of medical and technical advice and facilitate peer patient support.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002148
PMCID: PMC3563121  PMID: 23355670
Qualitative Research
17.  Functional significance of erythropoietin in renal cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:14.
One of the molecules regulated by the transcription factor, hypoxia inducible factor (HIF), is the hypoxia-responsive hematopoietic factor, erythropoietin (EPO). This may have relevance to the development of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), where mutations of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene are major risk factors for the development of familial and sporadic RCC. VHL mutations up-regulate and stabilize HIF, which in turn activates many downstream molecules, including EPO, that are known to promote angiogenesis, drug resistance, proliferation and progression of solid tumours. HIFs typically respond to hypoxic cellular environment. While the hypoxic microenvironment plays a critical role in the development and progression of tumours in general, it is of special significance in the case of RCC because of the link between VHL, HIF and EPO. EPO and its receptor, EPOR, are expressed in many cancers, including RCC. This limits the use of recombinant human EPO (rhEPO) to treat anaemia in cancer patients, because the rhEPO may be stimulatory to the cancer. EPO may also stimulate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in RCC, and pathological EMT has a key role in cancer progression. In this mini review, we summarize the current knowledge of the role of EPO in RCC. The available data, either for or against the use of EPO in RCC patients, are equivocal and insufficient to draw a definitive conclusion.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-14
PMCID: PMC3554558  PMID: 23305401
18.  Pre-, Pro-, and Synbiotics: Do They Have a Role in Reducing Uremic Toxins? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
Objective. This paper assessed the effectiveness of pre-, pro-, and synbiotics on reducing two protein-bound uremic toxins, p-cresyl sulphate (PCS) and indoxyl sulphate (IS). Methods. English language studies reporting serum, urinary, or fecal PCS and/or IS (or their precursors) following pre-, pro-, or synbiotic interventions (>1 day) in human adults were included. Population estimates of differences in the outcomes between the pre- and the postintervention were estimated for subgroups of studies using four meta-analyses. Quality was determined using the GRADE approach. Results. 19 studies met the inclusion criteria, 14 in healthy adults and five in haemodialysis patients. Eight studies investigated prebiotics, six probiotics, one synbiotics, one both pre- and probiotics, and three studies trialled all three interventions. The quality of the studies ranged from moderate to very low. 12 studies were included in the meta-analyses with all four meta-analyses reporting statistically significant reductions in IS and PCS with pre- and probiotic therapy. Conclusion. There is a limited but supportive evidence for the effectiveness of pre- and probiotics on reducing PCS and IS in the chronic kidney disease population. Further studies are needed to provide more definitive findings before routine clinical use can be recommended.
doi:10.1155/2012/673631
PMCID: PMC3536316  PMID: 23316359
19.  Clinician beliefs and attitudes about home haemodialysis: a multinational interview study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e002146.
Objectives
To explore clinician beliefs and attitudes about home haemodialysis in global regions where the prevalence of home haemodialysis is low, and to identify barriers to developing home haemodialysis services and possible strategies to increase acceptance and uptake of home haemodialysis.
Design
Semistructured interviews, thematic analysis.
Setting
15 dialysis centres in Italy, Portugal, France, Germany, Sweden and Argentina.
Participants
28 nephrologists and 14 nurses caring for patients receiving in-centre haemodialysis.
Results
We identified four major themes as being central to clinician beliefs about home haemodialysis in regions without established services: external structural barriers (ready access to dialysis centres, inadequate housing conditions, unstable economic environment); dialysis centre characteristics (availability of alternative treatments, competing service priorities, commercial interests); clinician responsibility and motivation (preserving safety and security, lack of awareness, knowledge and experience, potential to offer lifestyle benefits, professional interest and advancement); and cultural apprehension (an unrelenting imposition, carer burden, attachment to professional healthcare provision, limited awareness).
Conclusions
Despite recognising the potential benefits of home haemodialysis, clinicians practicing in Europe and South America felt apprehensive and doubted the feasibility of home haemodialysis programmes. Programmes that provide clinicians with direct experience of home haemodialysis could increase acceptance and motivation for home-based haemodialysis, as might service prioritisation and funding models that favour home haemodialysis.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-002146
PMCID: PMC3533066  PMID: 23242245
Qualitative Research
20.  Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease in Adolescents and Adults through the Transcendental Meditation® Program: A Research Review Update 
Current hypertension reviews  2012;8(3):227-242.
The pathogenesis and progression of cardiovascular diseases are thought to be exacerbated by stress. Basic research indicates that the Transcendental Meditation® technique produces acute and longitudinal reductions in sympathetic tone and stress reactivity. In adolescents at risk for hypertension, the technique has been found to reduce resting and ambulatory blood pressure, left ventricular mass, cardiovascular reactivity, and to improve school behavior. Research on adults with mild or moderate essential hypertension has reported decreased blood pressure and reduced use of anti-hypertensive medication. The technique has also been reported to decrease symptoms of angina pectoris and carotid atherosclerosis, to reduce cardiovascular risk factors, including alcohol and tobacco use, to markedly reduce medical care utilization for cardiovascular diseases, and to significantly decrease cardiovascular and all-cause morbidity and mortality. These findings have important implications for inclusion of the Transcendental Meditation program in efforts to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases and their clinical consequences.
®Transcendental Meditation and TM are trademarks registered in the US. Patent and Trademark Office, licensed to Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation and are used with permission.
PMCID: PMC3510697  PMID: 23204989
Adolescents; meditation; blood pressure; cardiovascular disease; randomized clinical trial; stress reduction; mortality
21.  Biocompatible Peritoneal Dialysis Fluids: Clinical Outcomes 
Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is a preferred home dialysis modality and has a number of added advantages including improved initial patient survival and cost effectiveness over haemodialysis. Despite these benefits, uptake of PD remains relatively low, especially in developed countries. Wider implementation of PD is compromised by higher technique failure from infections (e.g., PD peritonitis) and ultrafiltration failure. These are inevitable consequences of peritoneal injury, which is thought to result primarily from continuous exposure to PD fluids that are characterised by their “unphysiologic” composition. In order to overcome these barriers, a number of more biocompatible PD fluids, with neutral pH, low glucose degradation product content, and bicarbonate buffer have been manufactured over the past two decades. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated their benefit in terms of improvement in host cell defence, peritoneal membrane integrity, and cytokine profile. This paper aims to review randomised controlled trials assessing the use of biocompatible PD fluids and their effect on clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1155/2012/812609
PMCID: PMC3515903  PMID: 23251801
22.  A randomised controlled trial of Heparin versus EthAnol Lock THerapY for the prevention of Catheter Associated infecTion in Haemodialysis patients – the HEALTHY-CATH trial 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:146.
Background
Tunnelled central venous dialysis catheter use is significantly limited by the occurrence of catheter-related infections. This randomised controlled trial assessed the efficacy of a 48 hour 70% ethanol lock vs heparin locks in prolonging the time to the first episode of catheter related blood stream infection (CRBSI).
Methods
Patients undergoing haemodialysis (HD) via a tunnelled catheter were randomised 1:1 to once per week ethanol locks (with two heparin locks between other dialysis sessions) vs thrice per week heparin locks.
Results
Observed catheter days in the heparin (n=24) and ethanol (n=25) groups were 1814 and 3614 respectively. CRBSI occurred at a rate of 0.85 vs. 0.28 per 1000 catheter days in the heparin vs ethanol group by intention to treat analysis (incident rate ratio (IRR) for ethanol vs. heparin 0.17; 95%CI 0.02-1.63; p=0.12). Flow issues requiring catheter removal occurred at a rate of 1.6 vs 1.4 per 1000 catheter days in the heparin and ethanol groups respectively (IRR 0.85; 95% CI 0.20-3.5 p =0.82 (for ethanol vs heparin).
Conclusions
Catheter survival and catheter-related blood stream infection were not significantly different but there was a trend towards a reduced rate of infection in the ethanol group. This study establishes proof of concept and will inform an adequately powered multicentre trial to definitively examine the efficacy and safety of ethanol locks as an alternative to current therapies used in the prevention of catheter-associated blood stream infections in patients dialysing with tunnelled catheters.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12609000493246
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-146
PMCID: PMC3531247  PMID: 23121768
Catheter related blood stream infection (CRBSI); Central venous catheter; Ethanol; Lock therapy; Haemodialysis (HD); Prophylaxis
23.  Association of pre-transplant statin use with delayed graft function in kidney transplant recipients 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:111.
Background
Administration of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins), prior to ischemia or prior to reperfusion has been shown to decrease ischemia-reperfusion renal injury in animal studies. It is unknown whether this protective effect is applicable to renal transplantation in humans. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between prior statin use in renal transplant recipients and the subsequent risk of delayed graft function.
Methods
All patients who underwent deceased or living donor renal transplantation at the Princess Alexandra Hospital between 1 July 2008 and 1 August 2010 were included in this retrospective, observational cohort study. Graft function was classified as immediate graft function (IGF), dialysis-requiring (D-DGF) and non-dialysis-requiring (ND-DGF) delayed graft function. The independent predictors of graft function were evaluated by multivariable logistic regression, adjusting for donor characteristics, recipient characteristics, HLA mismatch and ischaemic times.
Results
Overall, of the 266 renal transplant recipients, 21% exhibited D-DGF, 39% had ND-DGF and 40% had IGF. Statin use prior to renal transplantation was not significantly associated with the risk of D-DGF (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.05, 95% CI 0.96 – 1.15, P = 0.28). This finding was not altered when D-DGF and ND-DGF were pooled together (OR 0.98; 95% CI 0.89-1.06, p = 0.56).
Conclusions
The present study did not show a significant, independent association between prior statin use in kidney transplant recipients and the occurrence of delayed graft function.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-111
PMCID: PMC3507677  PMID: 22985048
24.  The effect of low glucose degradation product, neutral pH versus standard peritoneal dialysis solutions on peritoneal membrane function: the balANZ trial 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2012;27(12):4445-4453.
Background
The balANZ trial recently reported that neutral pH, low glucose degradation product (biocompatible) peritoneal dialysis (PD) solutions significantly delayed anuria and reduced peritonitis rates compared with conventional solutions. This article reports a secondary outcome analysis of the balANZ trial with respect to peritoneal membrane function.
Methods
Adult, incident PD patients with residual renal function were randomized to receive either biocompatible or conventional (control) PD solutions for 2 years. Peritoneal equilibration tests were performed at 1, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. Peritoneal small solute clearances and ultra-filtration (UF) were measured at 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months.
Results
Of the 185 patients recruited into the trial, 85 patients in the Balance group and 82 patients in the control group had peritoneal membrane function evaluated. Mean 4-h dialysate:plasma creatinine ratios (D:P Cr 4h) at 1 month were significantly higher in the Balance group compared with controls (0.67 ± 0.10 versus 0.62 ± 0.10, P = 0.002). Over the 2-year study period, mean D:P Cr 4 h measurements remained stable in the Balance group but increased significantly in controls [difference −0.004 per month, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) −0.005 to −0.002, P < 0.001]. Similar results were obtained for dialysate glucose ratios (D/D0 glucose). Peritoneal UF was significantly lower in the Balance group than in controls at 3 and 6 months. Over the 2-year study period, peritoneal UF increased significantly in the Balance group but remained stable in controls (difference 24 mL/day/month, 95% CI 9–39, P = 0.002). No differences in peritoneal small solute clearances, prescribed dialysate fill volumes or peritoneal glucose exposure were observed between the two groups.
Conclusions
Biocompatible and conventional PD solutions exert differential effects on peritoneal small solute transport rate and UF over time. Adequately powered trials assessing the impact of these differential membrane effects on PD technique and patient survival rates are warranted.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gfs314
PMCID: PMC3520083  PMID: 22859794
biocompatibility; glucose degradation products; outcomes; peritoneal dialysis; peritoneal equilibration test
25.  Croup in the paediatric emergency department 
Paediatrics & Child Health  2007;12(6):473-477.
Croup is a common childhood illness. The majority of children presenting with an acute onset of barky cough, stridor and indrawing have croup. A careful history and physical examination is necessary to confirm the diagnosis of croup, and to rule out potentially serious alternative causes of upper airway obstruction. Nebulized adrenaline is effective for the temporary relief of airway obstruction. Corticosteroids are the mainstay of treatment in children with croup of all levels of severity.
PMCID: PMC2528757  PMID: 19030411
Child; Corticosteroids; Croup; Inhaled adrenaline

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