The following article features coverage from the National Kidney Foundation’s virtual 2020 Spring Clinical Meetings. Click here to read more of Renal and Urology News’ conference coverage.

Dialysis patients with high levels of the cytokine interleukin 6 (IL-6) may have greater risks for progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC) and death, according to new research presented during the live virtual National Kidney Foundation 2020 Spring Clinical Meetings.

Neil Roy, MBBS, and Sylvia E. Rosas, MD, MSCE, of Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, studied CAC progression in 101 incident dialysis patients (mean age 50.6 years; 33% women; and 64.7% black) using electrocardiogram-triggered multi-slice computed tomography scans. At baseline, Agatston calcium scores for individuals with high vs low IL-6 (using a median 3.1 pg/mL as a cutoff) were 55.2 vs 4.75. Over 12 months, patients’ calcium scores increased to 120.9 and 22.1, respectively.

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Although a quarter of all patients died over 5 years, the investigators found that a significantly greater proportion of patients with high compared with low IL-6 (28% vs 18%). On multivariable linear regression, IL-6 emerged as an independent risk factor for CAC progression. Each log increase in IL-6 was associated with a 2.4-fold increase in death risk. Fibroblast growth factor 23, smoking, and diabetes were not found to be major contributors.

“This study demonstrates that inflammation is an important pathway for cardiovascular disease progression even in patients on dialysis,” Drs Roy and Rosas told Renal & Urology News. “We should find ways to decrease inflammation in our patients that include diet, glucose control, and increased physical activity among other efforts. In addition, future studies should assess whether curbing inflammation actually reduces cardiovascular events and improves survival in these high-risk patients.”

Read more of our coverage of the National Kidney Foundation’s virtual 2020 Spring Clinical Meetings by visiting the conference page.

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Roy N, Rosas S. IL-6 is associated with progression of coronary arterial calcification (CAC) and mortality in patients new to dialysis. Data presented at the live virtual National Kidney Foundation 2020 Spring Clinical Meetings held March 25 to 29. ePoster 294.