Loss of executive function after dialysis initiation in adults with chronic kidney disease

Kidney Int. 2017 Apr;91(4):948-953. doi: 10.1016/j.kint.2016.11.015. Epub 2017 Jan 27.


The association of dialysis initiation with changes in cognitive function among patients with advanced chronic kidney disease is poorly described. To better define this, we enrolled participants with advanced chronic kidney disease from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort in a prospective study of cognitive function. Eligible participants had a glomerular filtration rate of 20 ml/min/1.73m2 or less, or dialysis initiation within the past two years. We evaluated cognitive function by a validated telephone battery at regular intervals over two years and analyzed test scores as z scores. Of 212 participants, 123 did not transition to dialysis during follow-up, 37 transitioned to dialysis after baseline, and 52 transitioned to dialysis prior to baseline. In adjusted analyses, the transition to dialysis was associated with a significant loss of executive function, but no significant changes in global cognition or memory. The estimated net difference in cognitive z scores at two years for participants who transitioned to dialysis during follow-up compared to participants who did not transition to dialysis was -0.01 (95% confidence interval -0.13, 0.11) for global cognition, -0.24 (-0.51, 0.03) for memory, and -0.33 (-0.60, -0.07) for executive function. Thus, among adults with advanced chronic kidney disease, dialysis initiation was associated with loss of executive function with no change in other aspects of cognition. Larger studies are needed to evaluate cognition during dialysis initiation.

Keywords: CKD; cognitive function; dialysis.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Cognition*
  • Executive Function*
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Memory
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States