Background: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients affected by mineral bone disorders (MBD) have higher rates of all-cause and cardiovascular-related mortality. Approximately, one-third of dialysis patients have low serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels (≤ 150 pg/mL). However, the reason why these patients have higher mortality compared to patients with normal PTH levels has not yet been fully elucidated.
Methods: The FARO study was performed on 2453 Italian patients followed prospectively from 28 dialysis centres over a 2-year period. Data were collected every 6 months and end points included time-to-death cumulative probability in patients with serum intact PTH (iPTH) ≤ 150 pg/mL and the effect of vitamin D receptor activation (VDRA) therapy. Kaplan-Meier curves and proportional hazards regression models stratified by PTH levels (i.e. ≤ 150 and >150 pg/mL) were used to determine cumulative probability of time-to-death and adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for demographic, clinical and CKD-MBD treatment characteristics.
Results: The cumulative probability of death was higher (P < 0.01) for patients with serum iPTH levels ≤ 150 pg/mL [25.1%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 22.1-28.5 at 18 months] versus those with serum iPTH levels within the normal range (18.0%, 95% CI: 16.1-20.1). In a model with time-dependent covariates restricted to time periods when patients had iPTH levels ≤ 150 pg/mL, lower mortality was observed in patients treated with VDRA [i.e. HR = 0.62, 95% CI: 0.42-0.92 for oral or intravenous (IV) calcitriol; HR = 0.18, 95% CI: 0.04-0.8 for IV paricalcitol] versus those not receiving any VDRA (P < 0.01) independently of other variables. Patients who received IV paricalcitol, compared with either oral or IV calcitriol, showed reduced mortality, but this was not statistically significant (HR = 0.3, 95% CI: 0.07-1.31, P = 0.11).
Conclusion: Results from this observational study suggest that VDRA therapy was associated with improved survival in dialysis patients, even with low serum iPTH levels.