Inflammation and infection seem to be important causes of morbidity and mortality in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients; subclinical infections have been proposed as an important cause of inflammatory syndrome, but to date this hypothesis remains speculative. We developed a method for the molecular detection of the presence of bacterial DNA in a population of CKD patients in order to correlate the molecular data with the degree and level of inflammation and to evaluate its usefulness in the diagnosis of subclinical infection. The study was divided into two phases: (1) a population of 81 CKD patients was screened for the prevalence and level of inflammation and the presence of possible infection, and (2) a subgroup of 38 patients, without evident clinical causes of inflammation, underwent complete molecular evaluation for subclinical infection using bacterial DNA primers for sequencing. Additionally, complete analysis was carried out in the blood and dialysate compartments of the hemodialyzers used. The general population showed a certain degree of subclinical inflammation and no difference was found between patients with and without evident causes of inflammation. Hemoculture-negative patients were positive for the presence of bacterial DNA when molecular methods were used. We found a correlation trend between the presence of bacterial DNA and the increase in hs-CRP, IL-6 and oxidative stress (advanced oxidation protein product) levels and a reduction in the mean fluorescence intensity for HLA-DR. Hemodialyzer membranes seem to have properties that stick to bacteria/bacterial DNA and work as concentrators. In fact, patients with negative bacterial DNA in the circulating blood displayed positivity in the blood compartment of the dialyzer. The dialysate was negative for bacterial DNA but the dialysate compartment of the hemodialyzers used was positive in a high percentage. Moreover our data suggest that bacterial DNA can traverse hemodialysis membranes. Molecular methods have been found to be far more sensitive than standard methods in detecting subclinical infection. The presence of bacterial DNA seems to influence the variation in some parameters of inflammation and immunity. Apart from the limitations and pitfalls, the molecular method could be useful to screen for subclinical infection and diagnose subclinical sepsis when the hemoculture is negative. However, the identification of the microorganism implicated must be done with species-specific primers. Copyright © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel


© 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel 0253-5068/07/0251-0069$23.50/0

Claudio Ronco

Department of Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplantation S. Bortolo Hospital, Viale Rodolfi 37 IT-36100 Vicenza (Italy)

Tel. +39 0444 753 869, Fax +39 0444 753 949, E-Mail [email protected]

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