The increased risks for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in patients with renal failure may be attributable to an impaired endothelial glycocalyx barrier, suggests recent study findings published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2012;23:1900-1908).

In a study, some of this glycoprotein and polysaccharide mesh that coats the blood vessels was lost in 40 dialysis patients compared with 21 healthy controls. The dialysis patients had high levels of glycocalyx constituents in their blood, consistent with increased shedding of this coating.

This likely contributes to the aggressive vascular pathology present in patients with end-stage renal disease.

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