Background: Hyperphosphatemia is a risk factor for the development of several different complications of chronic kidney disease (CKD), including secondary hyperparathyroidism and cardiovascular complications, due to the formation of calcium-phosphate deposits. Fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23) is a recently discovered protein that is mutated in autosomal-dominant hypophosphatemic rickets, an inherited phosphate wasting disorder, and it may represent a novel hormonal regulator of phosphate homeostasis. We therefore hypothesized that FGF-23 levels may be altered in hyperphosphatemia associated with renal failure and that its concentration changes in response to different levels of phosphate intake.
Methods: Using a two-site enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) detecting the C-terminal portion of FGF-23, serum concentration was measured in 20 patients with different stages of renal failure (creatinine range 155 to 724 micromol/L), in 33 patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on dialysis treatment, and in 30 patients with functioning renal grafts. Furthermore, six healthy males were given oral phosphate binders in combination with low dietary phosphate intake for 2 days followed by 3 days of repletion with inorganic phosphate. FGF-23 levels were determined at multiple time points.
Results: FGF-23 serum levels were significantly elevated in CKD with a strong correlation between serum creatinine and FGF-23 concentration. Independent correlations were also seen between FGF-23 and phosphate, calcium, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and 1,25(OH)2D3. No changes in serum FGF-23 levels were observed in volunteers following ingestion of oral phosphate binders/low dietary phosphate intake, which led to a decline in phosphate excretion or during the subsequent repletion with inorganic phosphate through oral phosphate and a normal diet.
Conclusion: Circulating FGF-23 was significantly elevated in patients with CKD and its concentration correlated with renal creatinine clearance. In healthy volunteers, FGF-23 levels did not change after phosphate deprivation or phosphate loading.