To characterize uremic cardiac autonomic neuropathy, we measured plasma catecholamines, analyzed the 24-hour heart rate variability (HRV), and acquired serial images with (123)I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) in 44 patients with chronic renal failure on hemodialysis and in 14 controls. Time-domain measures were calculated using the Marquette HRV program. MIBG clearance rates from the heart and lung were evaluated on planar images, and the regional MIBG uptake in the left ventricular myocardium was evaluated with single-photon emission computed tomography. Compared with controls, plasma dopamine and norepinephrine levels were elevated (p < 0.001 and p = 0.03, respectively), and all the time-domain measures of HRV were reduced in the patients (p < 0.001). The MIBG clearance rate from the heart was higher (p < 0.001), that from the lung was lower (p < 0.001), and the myocardial MIBG distribution was more heterogeneous in patients than in controls (total uptake score p </= 0.03). These variables were similar between 26 patients without and 18 patients with hypertension. Uremic cardiac autonomic neuropathy may be characterized by high plasma levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, reduced HRV, and abnormal MIBG kinetics in the heart with heterogeneous myocardial MIBG distribution, suggesting cardiac sympathetic overactivity and parasympathetic deterioration. In addition, abnormal MIBG kinetics in the lung may imply pulmonary sympathetic nervous dysfunction and/or endothelial dysfunction in uremic patients.
Copyright 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel