Protein-bound uremic toxins: new insight from clinical studies

Toxins (Basel). 2011 Jul;3(7):911-9. doi: 10.3390/toxins3070911. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


The uremic syndrome is attributed to the progressive retention of a large number of compounds which, under normal conditions, are excreted by healthy kidneys. The compounds are called uremic toxins when they interact negatively with biological functions. The present review focuses on a specific class of molecules, namely the family of protein-bound uremic toxins. Recent experimental studies have shown that protein-bound toxins are involved not only in the progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD), but also in the generation and aggravation of cardiovascular disease. Two protein-bound uremic retention solutes, namely indoxyl sulfate and p-cresyl sulfate, have been shown to play a prominent role. However, although these two molecules belong to the same class of molecules, exert toxic effects on the cardiovascular system in experimental animals, and accumulate in the serum of patients with CKD they may have different clinical impacts in terms of cardiovascular disease and other complications. The principal aim of this review is to evaluate the effect of p-cresyl sulfate and indoxyl sulfate retention on CKD patient outcomes, based on recent clinical studies.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; clinical studies; indoxyl sulfate; uremic toxins; p-cresyl sulfate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cresols / blood
  • Cresols / toxicity
  • Disease Progression*
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Indican / blood
  • Indican / toxicity
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Protein Binding
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters
  • Toxins, Biological / blood*
  • Uremia / physiopathology*


  • Cresols
  • Sulfuric Acid Esters
  • Toxins, Biological
  • 4-cresol sulfate
  • Indican