Effects of hemodiafiltration and high flux hemodialysis on nerve excitability in end-stage kidney disease

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59055. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059055. Epub 2013 Mar 11.


Objectives: Peripheral neuropathy is the most common neurological complication in end-stage kidney disease. While high flux hemodialysis (HFHD) and hemodiafiltration (HDF) have become the preferred options for extracorporeal dialysis therapy, the effects of these treatments on nerve excitability have not yet been examined.

Methods: An observational proof-of-concept study of nerve excitability and neuropathy was undertaken in an incident dialysis population (n = 17) receiving either HFHD or HDF. Nerve excitability techniques were utilised to assess nerve ion channel function and membrane potential, in conjunction with clinical assessment and standard nerve conduction studies. A mathematical model of axonal excitability was used to investigate the underlying basis of the observed changes. Nerve excitability was recorded from the median nerve, before, during and after a single dialysis session and correlated with corresponding biochemical markers. Differences in nerve excitability were compared to normal controls with longitudinal follow-up over an 18 month period.

Results: Nerve excitability was performed in patient cohorts treated with either HFHD (n = 9) or online HDF (n = 8), with similar neuropathy status. Nerve excitability measures in HDF-treated patients were significantly closer to normal values compared to HFHD patients obtained over the course of a dialysis session (p<0.05). Longitudinal studies revealed stability of nerve excitability findings, and thus maintenance of improved nerve function in the HDF group.

Conclusions: This study has provided evidence that nerve excitability in HDF-treated patients is significantly closer to normal values prior to dialysis, across a single dialysis session and at longitudinal follow-up. These findings offer promise for the management of neuropathy in ESKD and should be confirmed in randomised trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Axons
  • Female
  • Hemodiafiltration*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Renal Dialysis*

Grant support

RA and TP were each supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award from the University of New South Wales. AK was supported by a Career Development Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (grant 568680). MJ was supported by a Jacquot Research Establishment Award. Grant support was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (grant 630425). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.