Background: Beta(2)-microglobulin (beta(2)-M) is recognized as a surrogate marker of middle-molecule uraemic toxins and is a key component in the genesis of dialysis-associated amyloidosis. Few studies have evaluated the association of beta(2)-M levels with clinical outcome in dialyzed patients.
Methods: The prognostic implication of serum beta(2)-M levels for the survival of haemodialysis patients was examined in 490 prevalent haemodialysis patients (60.1 +/- 11.8 years, haemodialysis duration of 87.4 +/- 75.7 months, 288 males and 202 females; 24% diabetics). The patients were divided into two groups according to their serum beta(2)-M levels: lower beta(2)-M group (n = 245) with serum beta(2)-M <32.2 mg/L (the median serum beta(2)-M) and higher beta(2)-M group (n = 245) with that >or=32.2 mg/L.
Results: During the follow-up period of 40 +/- 15 months, there were 91 all-cause deaths, and out of them, 36 were from cardiovascular diseases. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed that all-cause mortality in the higher beta(2)-M group was significantly higher compared to that in the lower beta(2)-M group (P < 0.001). Multivariate Cox proportional hazards analyses showed that serum beta(2)-M level was a significant predictor for all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.01-1.08; P = 0.005), and for non-cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.02-1.10; P = 0.006), after adjustment for age, gender, haemodialysis duration, the presence of diabetes, serum albumin and serum C-reactive protein.
Conclusion: These results demonstrate that the serum beta(2)-M level is a significant predictor of mortality in haemodialysis patients, independent of haemodialysis duration, diabetes, malnutrition and chronic inflammation, suggesting the clinical importance of lowering serum beta(2)-M in these patients.