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A low lymphocyte percentage is a predictor of mortality and hospitalization in hemodialysis patients.

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license


Lymphocyte percentage (LYM%), an independently measured value to reflect peripheral lymphocyte count and a possible nutritional marker, may be related to clinical outcome in maintenance dialysis (MHD) patients.

Study design and setting

We examined the associations of the baseline white blood cell count (WBC) and LYM% with 12-month mortality and three measures of hospitalization in a cohort of 1,283 MHD patients from 10 outpatient DaVita dialysis clinics in Los Angeles County, as well as in a subcohort of 372 MHD patients with additional measures of inflammation, nutrition and comorbidity. Multi-variate Cox and Poisson models that included 13 co-variates including case-mix features, dialysis dose, blood hemoglobin and serum albumin were explored.


Patients, aged 57.8 +/- 15.2 years, included 49% men and 49% diabetics. Baseline WBC was 7,353 +/- 2.427 per microl, and LYM% was 21.2 +/- 7.3%. LYM% had significant correlations with "malnutrition-inflammation score" and inverse correlations with serum interleukin-6. The WBC and LYM% had significant but opposite predicting values for mortality and hospitalization, indicating that a high WBC and a low LYM% were each independently associated with increased mortality. After dividing each variable into four quartiles, only the highest WBC quartile (> or = 8,500) but not the other middle two quartiles, predicted increased mortality. However, all three lower quartiles of LYM% vs. the highest quartile (based on quartile cutoffs of 16%, 20.3% and 25.5%) were significantly and progressively associated with greater risks of mortality and hospitalizations. The absolute lymphocyte count (LYM% times WBC/100) exhibited somewhat similar trends but its outcome predictability was not as strong as LYM%.


A high WBC and a low LYM% are associated with significant increase in mortality and hospitalization in MHD patients. Lymphocyte percentage, compared to absolute lymphocyte count, appears to be a better nutritional and anti-inflammatory marker and a more sensitive predictor of mortality and hospitalization in MHD patients.

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