Background: Multiple solutes are retained in uremia, but it is currently unclear which solutes are toxic. Small studies suggest that protein-bound solutes, such as p-cresol sulfate and indoxyl sulfate and intracellular solutes, such as methylamine (MMA) and dimethylamine (DMA), may be toxic. Our objective was to test whether elevated levels of these solutes were associated with mortality.
Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study in 521 U.S. incident hemodialysis patients to evaluate associations between these solutes and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. P-cresol sulfate, indoxyl sulfate, MMA and DMA levels were measured from frozen plasma samples obtained 2 to 6 months after initiation of dialysis. Mortality data was available through 2004 using the National Death Index.
Results: Elevated (greater than the population median) p-cresol sulfate, MMA or DMA levels were not associated with all-cause or cardiovascular mortality. Elevated indoxyl sulfate levels were associated with all-cause mortality but not cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratio 1.30 (95% confidence interval 1.01, 1.69) p-value 0.043).
Conclusions: In this cohort of 521 incident hemodialysis patients, only elevated indoxyl sulfate levels were associated with all-cause mortality. Further research is needed to identify causes of the toxicity of uremia to provide better care for patients with kidney disease.