Dysfunctional high-density lipoprotein in patients on chronic hemodialysis

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Dec 11;60(23):2372-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.09.013. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Objectives: This study examined the functionality of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in individuals with end-stage renal disease on dialysis (ESRD-HD).

Background: The high rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in chronic kidney disease is not explained by standard risk factors, especially in patients with ESRD-HD who appear resistant to benefits of statin therapy. HDL is antiatherogenic because it extracts tissue cholesterol and reduces inflammation.

Methods: Cellular cholesterol efflux and inflammatory response were assessed in macrophages exposed to HDL of patients with ESRD-HD or controls.

Results: HDL from patients with ESRD-HD was dramatically less effective than normal HDL in accepting cholesterol from macrophages (median 6.9%; interquartile range [IQR]: 1.4% to 10.2%) versus control (median 14.9%; IQR: 9.8% to 17.8%; p < 0.001). The profound efflux impairment was also seen in patients with ESRD-HD and diabetes compared with patients with diabetes without renal disease (median 8.1%; IQR: 3.3% to 12.9%) versus control (median 13.6%; IQR: 11.0% to 15.9%; p = 0.009). In vitro activation of cellular cholesterol transporters increased cholesterol efflux to both normal and uremic HDL. HDL of patients with ESRD-HD had reduced antichemotactic ability and increased macrophage cytokine response (tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, and interleukin-1-beta). HDL of patients with ESRD-HD on statin therapy had reduced inflammatory response while maintaining impaired cholesterol acceptor function. Interestingly, impaired HDL-mediated efflux did not correlate with circulating C-reactive protein levels or cellular inflammatory response.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that abnormal HDL capacity to mediate cholesterol efflux is a key driver of excess CVD in patients on chronic hemodialysis and may explain why statins have limited effect to decrease CV events. The findings also suggest cellular cholesterol transporters as potential therapeutic targets to decrease CV risk in this population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Atherosclerosis / blood
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / complications*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / blood
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Lipoproteins, HDL / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Dialysis / methods
  • Time Factors


  • Lipoproteins, HDL