Why hemodialysis patients are in a prooxidant state? What could be done to correct the pro/antioxidant imbalance

Blood Purif. 2000;18(3):191-9. doi: 10.1159/000014418.


Oxidative stress which results from an imbalance between reactive oxygen species production and antioxidant defense mechanisms is now well recognized in hemodialysis (HD) patients and could be involved in dialysis-related pathologies such as accelerated atherosclerosis, amyloidosis and anemia. In order to evaluate the rationale for preventive intervention against oxidative damage during HD, we review the factors that are implied and may be responsible for the imbalance between pro- and antioxidative mechanisms. The inflammatory state mainly due to hemobioincompatibility of the dialysis system plays a critical role in the production of free oxygen radical species contributing by this way to worsen the prooxidant status of uremic patients. Two factors largely contribute to the stimulation of the NADPH oxidase: hemoreactivity of the membrane and trace amounts of endotoxins. The antioxidant system is severely impaired in uremic patients and gradually altered with the degree of renal failure. HD could further impair this antioxidant system mainly by losses of (a) hydrophilic unbound small-molecular-weight substances such as vitamin C, (b) trace elements and (c) enzyme-regulatory compounds. Two main axes may be proposed in order to prevent and/or to decrease oxidative stress in HD patients. One consists in improving the hemocompatibility of the dialysis system mainly by using a dialyzer with low hemoreactivity and ultrapure, sterile, nonpyrogenic dialysate. The other consists in supplementing the deficiency patients with antioxidants. This could be achieved by oral or perdialytic supplementation. Vitamin E could be bound on dialyzer membrane. Alternatively, hemolipodialysis consists in loading HD patients with vitamin C or E via an ancillary circuit made of vitamin E-rich liposomes. The presence of liposomes could also facilitate the removal of hydrophobic prooxidative substances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Biocompatible Materials / adverse effects
  • Biocompatible Materials / standards
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Dialysis / instrumentation
  • Renal Dialysis / methods
  • Uremia / drug therapy
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Biocompatible Materials
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamins