Purpose of review: Oxidative stress has been described as 'a disturbance in the prooxidant-antioxidant balance in favor of the former, leading to potential damage. In uremic patients, an increase in oxidative stress may occur because of the loss of residual renal function, and may be exacerbated by dialysis. This review will focus on the emerging biochemical evidence of an increase in oxidative stress in uremic patients, the relationship with renal replacement therapy, and the potential linkages to acute-phase inflammation, malnutrition, and adverse cardiovascular outcomes in uremic patients.
Recent findings: Many studies from multiple research laboratories around the world have recently utilized in-vivo biomarkers to describe increased oxidative stress in uremic patients. An emerging literature suggests that there are links between an increase in oxidative stress, endothelial dysfunction, an increase in acute-phase inflammation, and an accelerated risk of cardiovascular complications in dialysis patients. Additional uremia-associated metabolic abnormalities, including hyperhomocysteinemia, intravenous iron exposure, and biocompatibility changes related to dialysis, may contribute to an increase in oxidative stress. Finally, two well-conducted pilot clinical randomized trials have suggested that antioxidant therapy may have efficacy in reducing cardiovascular events in uremic patients.
Summary: The implications of the findings of a generalized increase in oxidative stress associated with uremia have led to the suggestion that antioxidative therapy may be efficacious in reducing cardiovascular complications. Pilot studies have suggested potential efficacy for this approach. However, further large-scale randomized clinical trials will be required to establish a compelling, evidence-based approach to the use of antioxidants in patients with uremia.