Background: Inflammation in an ESRD patient may impact responsiveness to erythropoiesis-stimulating agent (ESA) therapy. We sought to investigate the association between C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and average per-administration epoetin alfa (EPO) dose over 3 months following a CRP measurement.
Methods: The study is a retrospective cohort study of hemodialysis patients >or=18 years of age receiving care at a Fresenius Medical Care-North America facility between 1 July 2000 and 30 June 2002 who had no history of peritoneal dialysis. All patients had >or=1 CRP measurement and >or=3 months of recorded information before the CRP measurement (entry period). We evaluated the association between CRP levels and average hemoglobin (Hb) and per-administration EPO dose over the 3 months following the CRP measurement.
Results: We identified 1754 patients with a CRP measurement; mean age was 62.6 years (SD 14.1), 51.5% were male, 56.2% were white and the median CRP value was 2.04 mg/dL (20.4 mg/L). Patients in the upper CRP quartiles were more likely to be older, recently hospitalized; have a catheter vascular access; have lower albumin, Hb and transferrin saturation levels and greater EPO doses. In the subsequent 3 months, EPO doses but not Hb levels were significantly higher for patients in the highest CRP quartile [3.21 mg/dL (32.1 mg/L)] (P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Inflammation as measured by an elevated CRP level appears to be an independent predictor of greater ESA dose requirements. Patients with the highest CRP levels required significantly higher ESA doses to achieve comparable Hb levels even after controlling for potential confounding variables.