Journal Article

Mononuclear leukocyte apoptosis in haemodialysis patients: the role of cell thiols and vitamin E

Francesco Galli, Lina Ghibelli, Umberto Buoncristiani, Valeria Bordoni, Vincenzo D’Intini, Serena Benedetti, Franco Canestrari, Claudio Ronco and Ardesio Floridi

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 18, issue 8, pages 1592-1600
Published in print August 2003 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online August 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Mononuclear leukocyte apoptosis in haemodialysis patients: the role of cell thiols and vitamin E

Show Summary Details


Background. An increased apoptotic rate of peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes (PBMLs) in haemodialysis (HD) patients has been reported in several studies, but its underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Oxidant stress is a well known cause of cell damage, and several lines of evidence suggest that it might influence the induction and signalling steps of mononuclear cell apoptosis through different mechanisms so as to provoke disturbances of the intracellular pool of thiols (SHi). In this study, we investigated the in vitro apoptotic rate and SHi of PBMLs in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients on HD or peritoneal dialysis (PD).

Methods. Apoptosis and SHi were evaluated in vitro in PBMLs obtained from 40 ESRD patients (HD, n = 30 and PD, n = 10) and 10 healthy controls. A subgroup of HD patients was also studied before and after 1 month of treatment with a vitamin E-coated dialyser (CL-E). Cell thiols and viability were also assessed in the monocyte-like cell line U937 and PBMLs after incubation in the presence of uraemic plasma with or without supplementation of the antioxidants vitamin E (70 μM) or N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) (0.5 mM).

Results. After 24 h in culture, the PBMLs of HD patients, but not those of CAPD patients, showed an apoptotic rate twice that of healthy controls and a 40% decrease of SHi levels (P < 0.01 in both). A negative correlation between the apoptotic rate and SHi was observed in both patients and controls (r = 0.648, P < 0.001). Plasma and ultrafiltrate samples from HD patients contained solutes (mainly in the low–middle molecular weight range) able to trigger apoptosis and oxidative stress in U937 cells. The treatment of HD patients with CL-E, as well as the in vitro supplementation of U937 cells with vitamin E or NAC during the exposure to uraemic plasma, decreased the rate of apoptosis and partially restored SHi.

Conclusions. This study showed an association between an increased apoptotic rate and decreased SHi in PBML of HD patients, but not of CAPD patients. These changes are partially due to different pro-apoptogens that accumulate in the plasma and are at least partially prevented by exogenous antioxidants able to restore SHi, such as vitamin E or thiol suppliers.

Keywords: apoptosis; haemodialysis; mononuclear leukocytes; oxidant stress; thiols; vitamin E

Journal Article.  6246 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.