Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common and serious problem that adversely affects human health, limits longevity and increases costs to health-care systems worldwide. Its increasing incidence cannot be fully explained by traditional risk factors. Oxidative stress is prevalent in CKD patients and is considered to be an important pathogenic mechanism. Oxidative stress develops from an imbalance between free radical production often increased through dysfunctional mitochondria formed with increasing age, type 2 diabetes mellitus, inflammation, and reduced anti-oxidant defences. Perturbations in cellular oxidant handling influence downstream cellular signalling and, in the kidney, promote renal cell apoptosis and senescence, decreased regenerative ability of cells, and fibrosis. These factors have a stochastic deleterious effect on kidney function. The majority of studies investigating anti-oxidant treatments in CKD patients show a reduction in oxidative stress and many show improved renal function. Despite heterogeneity in the oxidative stress levels in the CKD population, there has been little effort to measure patient oxidative stress levels before the use of any anti-oxidants therapies to optimize outcome. This review describes the development of oxidative stress, how it can be measured, the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction and the molecular pathways that are altered, the role of oxidative stress in CKD pathogenesis and an update on the amelioration of CKD using anti-oxidant therapies.
© 2012 The Authors. Nephrology © 2012 Asian Pacific Society of Nephrology.