Malnutrition and cardiovascular disease are associated with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and both are closely associated with one another, both in cross-sectional analysis and when the courses of individual patients are followed over time. Inflammation, by suppressing synthesis of albumin, transferrin, and other negative acute-phase proteins and increasing their catabolic rates, either combines with modest malnutrition or mimics malnutrition, resulting in deppcreased levels of these proteins in dialysis patients. Inflammation also leads to reduced muscle mass by increasing muscle protein catabolism and blocking synthesis of muscle protein. More importantly, inflammation alters plasma protein composition and endothelial structure and function so as to promote vascular disease. Markers of inflammation, C-reactive protein (CRP), and interleukin (IL)-6 powerfully predict death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients as well as progression of vascular injury. The causes of inflammation are likely multifactorial, including oxidative modification of plasma proteins, interaction of blood with nonbiocompatible membranes and lipopolysaccharides in dialysate, subclinical infection of vascular access materials, oxidative catabolism of endothelium-derived nitric oxide, and other infectious processes. Treatment should be focused on identifying potential causes of inflammation, if obvious, and reduction of other risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
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