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1.  The FIND-CKD study—a randomized controlled trial of intravenous iron versus oral iron in non-dialysis chronic kidney disease patients: background and rationale 
Background
Rigorous data are sparse concerning the optimal route of administration and dosing strategy for iron therapy with or without concomitant erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) therapy for the management of iron deficiency anaemia in patients with non-dialysis dependent chronic kidney disease (ND-CKD).
Methods
FIND-CKD was a 56-week, open-label, multicentre, prospective, randomized three-arm study (NCT00994318) of 626 patients with ND-CKD and iron deficiency anaemia randomized to (i) intravenous (IV) ferric carboxymaltose (FCM) at an initial dose of 1000 mg iron with subsequent dosing as necessary to target a serum ferritin level of 400–600 µg/L (ii) IV FCM at an initial dose of 200 mg with subsequent dosing as necessary to target serum ferritin 100–200 µg/L or (iii) oral ferrous sulphate 200 mg iron/day. The primary end point was time to initiation of other anaemia management (ESA therapy, iron therapy other than study drug or blood transfusion) or a haemoglobin (Hb) trigger (two consecutive Hb values <10 g/dL without an increase of ≥0.5 g/dL).
Results
The background, rationale and study design of the trial are presented here. The study has been completed and results are expected in late 2013.
Discussion
FIND-CKD was the longest randomized trial of IV iron therapy to date. Its findings will address several unanswered questions regarding iron therapy to treat iron deficiency anaemia in patients with ND-CKD. It was also the first randomized trial to utilize both a high and low serum ferritin target range to adjust IV iron dosing, and the first not to employ Hb response as its primary end point.
doi:10.1093/ndt/gft424
PMCID: PMC3967831  PMID: 24170814
anaemia; ferric carboxymaltose; FIND-CKD; intravenous iron; iron deficiency; non-dialysis CKD
2.  Platelets of patients with chronic kidney disease demonstrate deficient platelet reactivity in vitro 
BMC Nephrology  2012;13:127.
Background
In patients with chronic kidney disease studies focusing on platelet function and properties often are non-conclusive whereas only few studies use functional platelet tests. In this study we evaluated a recently developed functional flow cytometry based assay for the analysis of platelet function in chronic kidney disease.
Methods
Platelet reactivity was measured using flow cytometric analysis. Platelets in whole blood were triggered with different concentrations of agonists (TRAP, ADP, CRP). Platelet activation was quantified with staining for P-selectin, measuring the mean fluorescence intensity. Area under the curve and the concentration of half-maximal response were determined.
Results
We studied 23 patients with chronic kidney disease (9 patients with cardiorenal failure and 14 patients with end stage renal disease) and 19 healthy controls. Expression of P-selectin on the platelet surface measured as mean fluorescence intensity was significantly less in chronic kidney disease patients compared to controls after maximal stimulation with TRAP (9.7 (7.9-10.8) vs. 11.4 (9.2-12.2), P = 0.032), ADP (1.6 (1.2-2.1) vs. 2.6 (1.9-3.5), P = 0.002) and CRP (9.2 (8.5-10.8) vs. 11.5 (9.5-12.9), P = 0.004). Also the area under the curve was significantly different. There was no significant difference in half-maximal response between both groups.
Conclusion
In this study we found that patients with chronic kidney disease show reduced platelet reactivity in response of ADP, TRAP and CRP compared to controls. These results contribute to our understanding of the aberrant platelet function observed in patients with chronic kidney disease and emphasize the significance of using functional whole blood platelet activation assays.
doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-127
PMCID: PMC3473261  PMID: 23020133
Platelet activation; Haemodialysis; Cardiorenal syndrome; End-stage renal disease
3.  Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis is prevalent in cardiorenal patients but not associated with left ventricular function and myocardial fibrosis as assessed by cardiac magnetic resonance imaging 
Background
Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis (ARAS) is common in cardiovascular diseases and associated with hypertension, renal dysfunction and/or heart failure. There is a paucity of data about the prevalence and the role of ARAS in the pathophysiology of combined chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic kidney disease (CKD). We investigated the prevalence in patients with combined CHF/CKD and its association with renal function, cardiac dysfunction and the presence and extent of myocardial fibrosis.
Methods
The EPOCARES study (ClinTrialsNCT00356733) investigates the role of erythropoietin in anaemic patients with combined CHF/CKD. Eligible subjects underwent combined cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI), including late gadolinium enhancement, with magnetic resonance angiography of the renal arteries (MRA).
Results
MR study was performed in 37 patients (median age 74 years, eGFR 37.4 ± 15.6 ml/min, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) 43.3 ± 11.2%), of which 21 (56.8%) had ARAS (defined as stenosis >50%). Of these 21 subjects, 8 (21.6%) had more severe ARAS >70% and 8 (21.6%) had a bilateral ARAS >50% (or previous bilateral PTA). There were no differences in age, NT-proBNP levels and medication profile between patients with ARAS versus those without. Renal function declined with the severity of ARAS (p = 0.03), although this was not significantly different between patients with ARAS versus those without. Diabetes mellitus was more prevalent in patients without ARAS (56.3%) against those with ARAS (23.8%) (p = 0.04). The presence and extent of late gadolinium enhancement, depicting myocardial fibrosis, did not differ (p = 0.80), nor did end diastolic volume (p = 0.60), left ventricular mass index (p = 0.11) or LVEF (p = 0.15). Neither was there a difference in the presence of an ischemic pattern of late enhancement in patients with ARAS versus those without.
Conclusions
ARAS is prevalent in combined CHF/CKD and its severity is associated with a decline in renal function. However, its presence does not correlate with a worse LVEF, a higher left ventricular mass or with the presence and extent of myocardial fibrosis. Further research is required for the role of ARAS in the pathophysiology of combined chronic heart and renal failure.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-76
PMCID: PMC3470969  PMID: 22989293
Cardiorenal failure; Atherosclerotic renal artery stenosis; Magnetic resonance imaging; Late gadolinium enhancement
4.  Short-Term Erythropoietin Treatment Does Not Substantially Modulate Monocyte Transcriptomes of Patients with Combined Heart and Renal Failure 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e41339.
Background
Combined heart and renal failure is associated with high cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, non-hematopoietic effects of erythropoietin (EPO) treatment have been proposed. Monocytes may act as biosensors of the systemic environment. We hypothesized that monocyte transcriptomes of patients with cardiorenal syndrome (CRS) reflect the pathophysiology of the CRS and respond to short-term EPO treatment at a recommended dose for treatment of renal anemia.
Methods
Patients with CRS and anemia (n = 18) included in the EPOCARES trial were matched to healthy controls (n = 12). Patients were randomized to receive 50 IU/kg/week EPO or not. RNA from CD14+-monocytes was subjected to genome wide expression analysis (Illumina) at baseline and 18 days (3 EPO injections) after enrolment. Transcriptomes from patients were compared to healthy controls and effect of EPO treatment was evaluated within patients.
Results
In CRS patients, expression of 471 genes, including inflammation and oxidative stress related genes was different from healthy controls. Cluster analysis did not separate patients from healthy controls. The 6 patients with the highest hsCRP levels had more differentially expressed genes than the 6 patients with the lowest hsCRP levels. Analysis of the variation in log2 ratios of all individual 18 patients indicated that 4 of the 18 patients were different from the controls, whereas the other 14 were quite similar. After short-term EPO treatment, every patient clustered to his or her own baseline transcriptome. Two week EPO administration only marginally affected expression profiles on average, however, individual gene responses were variable.
Conclusions
In stable, treated CRS patients with mild anemia, monocyte transcriptomes were modestly altered, and indicated imprints of inflammation and oxidative stress. EPO treatment with a fixed dose has hematopoietic effects, had no appreciable beneficial actions on monocyte transcription profiles, however, could also not be associated with undesirable transcriptional responses.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041339
PMCID: PMC3434212  PMID: 22957013
5.  Hepcidin-25 in Chronic Hemodialysis Patients Is Related to Residual Kidney Function and Not to Treatment with Erythropoiesis Stimulating Agents 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39783.
Hepcidin-25, the bioactive form of hepcidin, is a key regulator of iron homeostasis as it induces internalization and degradation of ferroportin, a cellular iron exporter on enterocytes, macrophages and hepatocytes. Hepcidin levels are increased in chronic hemodialysis (HD) patients, but as of yet, limited information on factors associated with hepcidin-25 in these patients is available. In the current cross-sectional study, potential patient-, laboratory- and treatment-related determinants of serum hepcidin-20 and -25, were assessed in a large cohort of stable, prevalent HD patients. Baseline data from 405 patients (62% male; age 63.7±13.9 [mean SD]) enrolled in the CONvective TRAnsport STudy (CONTRAST; NCT00205556) were studied. Predialysis hepcidin concentrations were measured centrally with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Patient-, laboratory- and treatment related characteristics were entered in a backward multivariable linear regression model. Hepcidin-25 levels were independently and positively associated with ferritin (p<0.001), hsCRP (p<0.001) and the presence of diabetes (p = 0.02) and inversely with the estimated glomerular filtration rate (p = 0.01), absolute reticulocyte count (p = 0.02) and soluble transferrin receptor (p<0.001). Men had lower hepcidin-25 levels as compared to women (p = 0.03). Hepcidin-25 was not associated with the maintenance dose of erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESA) or iron therapy. In conclusion, in the currently studied cohort of chronic HD patients, hepcidin-25 was a marker for iron stores and erythropoiesis and was associated with inflammation. Furthermore, hepcidin-25 levels were influenced by residual kidney function. Hepcidin-25 did not reflect ESA or iron dose in chronic stable HD patients on maintenance therapy. These results suggest that hepcidin is involved in the pathophysiological pathway of renal anemia and iron availability in these patients, but challenges its function as a clinical parameter for ESA resistance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039783
PMCID: PMC3396629  PMID: 22808058
6.  New roles for renin and prorenin in heart failure and cardiorenal crosstalk 
Heart Failure Reviews  2011;17(2):191-201.
The renin-angiotensin-aldosterone-system (RAAS) plays a central role in the pathophysiology of heart failure and cardiorenal interaction. Drugs interfering in the RAAS form the pillars in treatment of heart failure and cardiorenal syndrome. Although RAAS inhibitors improve prognosis, heart failure–associated morbidity and mortality remain high, especially in the presence of kidney disease. The effect of RAAS blockade may be limited due to the loss of an inhibitory feedback of angiotensin II on renin production. The subsequent increase in prorenin and renin may activate several alternative pathways. These include the recently discovered (pro-) renin receptor, angiotensin II escape via chymase and cathepsin, and the formation of various angiotensin subforms upstream from the blockade, including angiotensin 1–7, angiotensin III, and angiotensin IV. Recently, the direct renin inhibitor aliskiren has been proven effective in reducing plasma renin activity (PRA) and appears to provide additional (tissue) RAAS blockade on top of angiotensin-converting enzyme and angiotensin receptor blockers, underscoring the important role of renin, even (or more so) under adequate RAAS blockade. Reducing PRA however occurs at the expense of an increase plasma renin concentration (PRC). PRC may exert direct effects independent of PRA through the recently discovered (pro-) renin receptor. Additional novel possibilities to interfere in the RAAS, for instance using vitamin D receptor activation, as well as the increased knowledge on alternative pathways, have revived the question on how ideal RAAS-guided therapy should be implemented. Renin and prorenin are pivotal since these are at the base of all of these pathways.
doi:10.1007/s10741-011-9262-2
PMCID: PMC3310995  PMID: 21695549
Heart failure; Renin; Prorenin; Cardiorenal
7.  Short- and long-term effects of erythropoietin treatment on endothelial progenitor cell levels in patients with cardiorenal syndrome 
Heart  2010;97(1):60-65.
Objective
Patients with cardiorenal syndrome (CRS) have high cardiovascular morbidity. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) constitute an endogenous vascular repairsystem, protecting against atherosclerosis development. Erythropoietin (EPO) treatment may have beneficial effects by mobilizing EPC from the bonemarrow. Our objective is to determine EPC levels and effects of EPO therapy on EPC levels in CRS patients.
Design
Open-label randomized trial.
Setting
Part of the EPOCARES-trial, conducted in Utrecht (Netherlands).
Patients
Patients with CRS and anaemia and healthy controls were included.
Interventions
Patients were randomized to receive EPO therapy (50 IU/kg/wk) for 52 weeks or no EPO therapy.
Main outcome measures
CD34+KDR+-EPC, cultured EPC outgrowth and function at baseline, after 18 days and after 52 weeks.
Results
Patients showed lower CD34+KDR+-cell numbers compared to controls (6(12) vs. 19(19) cells/105 granulocytes; p=0.010), despite increased levels of stromal cell-derived factor-1α; (3.1(0.8) vs 2.6(0.3) ng/ml; p=0.001). EPC outgrowth and function were not different between patients and controls. EPC levels did not change after 18 days with or without EPO treatment. CD34+KDR+-cells significantly declined after 52 weeks in the non-treated group (p=0.028). Long-term EPO therapy did not significantly affect this reduction in CD34+KDR+-EPC levels.
Conclusions
CRS patients showed reduced CD34+KDR+-EPC levels compared to controls, consistent with a reduced vascular regenerative potential and despite upregulated SDF-1α levels. Over a one-year follow-up period a marked 68% further reduction in EPC levels was observed in the patient group without EPO treatment. In spite of promising experimental studies, our longitudinal, randomized study did not show significant influence of either short- or long-term EPO therapy on reduced EPC levels in CRS patients.
doi:10.1136/hrt.2010.194654
PMCID: PMC3002834  PMID: 21071558
Renal disease; atherosclerosis; endothelium

Results 1-7 (7)