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Growth Factor Shows Promise As Kidney Disease Biomarker

Higher levels of the hormone associated with mortality among chronic kidney disease patients

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who are about to undergo hemodialysis who have increased levels of fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF-23) are at higher risk of mortality, researchers report in the Aug. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Orlando M. Gutierrez, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 10,044 patients, examining mortality according to serum phosphate levels, and tested the hypothesis that higher levels of FGF-23 at initiation of hemodialysis are associated with increased mortality by testing levels of the hormone among 200 patients who survived the first year of hemodialysis and 200 patients who died.

The investigators found that patients whose serum phosphate levels were above 5.5 mg per deciliter were 20 percent more likely to die than those with levels between 3.5 mg and 4.5 mg per deciliter (the normal range). Among the patients who died, median C-terminal levels of FGF-23 were significantly higher than those of the survivors group.

"Future studies might investigate whether FGF-23 is a potential biomarker that can be used to guide strategies for the management of phosphorous balance in patients with chronic kidney disease," the authors conclude.

Two of the study authors report a financial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and one author is holding a patent on FGF-23 assay.

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