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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Recent advances in understanding the malnutrition-inflammation-cachexia syndrome in chronic kidney disease patients: What is next?

  • Author(s): Kalantar-Zadeh, Kamyar
  • et al.

Several recent clinical trials using single modalities to correct the conventional cardiovascular risk factors in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or to improve dialysis dose and techniques in maintenance dialysis patients have failed despite the high rate of cardiovascular mortality in these individuals. Protein-energy malnutrition and inflammation, two relatively common and concurrent conditions in CKD patients, have been implicated as the main cause of poor short-term survival in this population. The "malnutrition-inflammation-cachexia syndrome" (MICS) appears to be the main cause of worsening atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in the CKD population. The MICS is associated with low serum cholesterol and homocysteine levels and leads to "cachexia in slow motion." Hence a reverse epidemiology of cardiovascular risk factors is observed in dialysis patients with a paradoxical association of obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperhomocysteinemia with better survival. Correction of MICS can potentially ameliorate the cardiovascular epidemic in CKD patients. Because MICS is multifactorial, its correction will require an integral approach rather than a single intervention. The ongoing obsession with conventional cardiovascular risk factors largely reflecting overnutrition in a population that suffers from the short-term consequences of undernutrition and excessive inflammation may well be fruitless. Clinical trials focusing on the causes and consequences of MICS and its modulation using nutritional interventions may be the key to improving survival in these individuals.

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