Influence of Biochemical Alterations on Arterial Stiffness in Patients With End-stage Renal Disease

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The incremental elastic modulus of the common carotid and radial arteries is increased in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD), independently of blood pressure, wall stress, and the presence of atherosclerotic alterations. Whether biochemical factors may be involved in the arterial changes and related to renal dysfunction remain largely ignored. To assess this question, we measured aortic (carotid-femoral), upper-limb (carotid-radial), and lower-limb (femoral-tibial) pulse wave velocity (PWV) in 74 ESRD patients undergoing hemodialysis in comparison with 57 control subjects similar in age, sex ratio, and mean blood pressure. We evaluated arterial blood presure by sphygmomanometry, aortic calcifications and cardiac mass by echography, and routine biochemical parameters, total plasma homocysteine, and plasma endothelin levels by standard techniques. In the population of patients with ESRD, on the basis of multiple stepwise regression analysis, aortic PWV was positively and independently correlated with systolic blood pressure (P<.0001), age (P<.0001), prevalence of aortic calcification (P=.0004), and the prevalence of diabetes mellitus (P=.0043). Upper-limb PWV was influenced exclusively by mean blood pressure (P<.0001). Lower-limb PWV was positively and independently correlated with plasma total homocysteine (P=.0004) and plasma endothelin (P=.0187) only. At any vascular site, PWV was not independently correlated with tobacco consumption; plasma levels of cholesterol, triglyceride, fibrinogen, or hemoglobin; body mass index; or the presence of bilateral nephrectomy. Finally, plasma homocysteine was independently correlated with cardiac mass (P=.0022). This study provides evidence that in ESRD patients, the stiffness of the arterial wall and cardiac mass are strongly influenced by biochemical factors related to the kidney alterations and are independent of age and blood pressure level. Increased plasma endothelin and homocysteine may be specifically involved in the vascular damage of lower limbs. (Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1998;18:535-541.)

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