Feasibility of catheter-based renal nerve ablation and effects on sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in patients with end-stage renal disease

Int J Cardiol. 2013 Oct 3;168(3):2214-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2013.01.218. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Background and objectives: Sympathetic activation is a hallmark of ESRD and adversely affects cardiovascular prognosis. Efferent sympathetic outflow and afferent neural signalling from the failing native kidneys are key mediators and can be targeted by renal denervation (RDN). Whether this is feasible and effective in ESRD is not known.

Design, setting, participants and measurements: In an initial safety and proof-of-concept study we attempted to perform RDN in 12 patients with ESRD and uncontrolled blood pressure (BP). Standardized BP measurements were obtained in all patients on dialysis free days at baseline and follow up. Measures of renal noradrenaline spillover and muscle sympathetic nerve activity were available from 5 patients at baseline and from 2 patients at 12 month follow up and beyond.

Results: Average office BP was 170.8 ± 16.9/89.2 ± 12.1 mmHg despite the use of 3.8 ± 1.4 antihypertensive drugs. All 5 patients in whom muscle sympathetic nerve activity and noradrenaline spillover was assessed at baseline displayed substantially elevated levels. Three out of 12 patients could not undergo RDN due to atrophic renal arteries. Compared to baseline, office systolic BP was significantly reduced at 3, 6, and 12 months after RDN (from 166 ± 16.0 to 148 ± 11, 150 ± 14, and 138 ± 17 mmHg, respectively), whereas no change was evident in the 3 non-treated patients. Sympathetic nerve activity was substantially reduced in 2 patients who underwent repeat assessment.

Conclusions: RDN is feasible in patients with ESRD and associated with a sustained reduction in systolic office BP. Atrophic renal arteries may pose a problem for application of this technology in some patients with ESRD.

Keywords: End-stage renal disease; Hypertension; Renal denervation; Sympathetic.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Catheter Ablation / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Renal / etiology
  • Hypertension, Renal / physiopathology
  • Hypertension, Renal / surgery*
  • Kidney / innervation*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sympathectomy / methods*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / surgery
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome