Detecting Dialysis Risk

Dialysis and kidney disease patients risk predicted by hormone levels

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Doctors need to know which kidney disease patients are at risk for complications. Can they take action before those problems arise? The trouble is figuring out who is at risk. A specific hormone may be the sign.

High levels of a certain hormone may point out the kidney disease patients who are likely to have heart problems, need dialysis, or die early.

"Get your hormone levels checked if you have kidney disease."

According to the study's lead investigator Michel Chonchol, M.D., from the University of Colorado Denver, this finding gives doctors the ability to spot at-risk patients before they need dialysis - a procedure that removes waste from the bloodstream for patients whose kidneys can no longer filter blood.

The sooner that doctors know a patient will need dialysis, the sooner they can step in with drugs to lower that patient's levels of phosphorous - a mineral that can cause complications in kidney patients.

This study is important, says Dr. Chonchol, because about 23 percent of patients die within the first year of dialysis. This discovery gives doctors a potentially lifesaving marker to look for, Dr. Chonchol explains.

The hormone discovered by Dr. Chonchol and her colleague Jessica Kendrick, M.D., is called fibroblast growth factor-23, or FGF-23. After studying the blood plasma of patients with advanced kidney disease, the researchers found that levels of FGF-23 increase as a patient's kidney function becomes worse.

FGF-23 manages the levels of phosphorous in the body. When the kidneys start to lose function, they are unable to excrete phosphorus. This then increases levels of FGF-23. A kidney patient becomes more likely to die as the level of this hormone increases.

Dr. Chonchol says that the researchers do not know how the hormone affects the body. This observational study was published on Friday, September 9 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 9, 2011
Last Updated:
September 12, 2011