March-April 2019

1) Plazomicin for complicated UTIs

Given the reputation of being birthplace of some of the superbugs of global concern, India needs to have an ‘antibiotic stewardship’ policy, even better, a law! Crisis is no less urgent than global climate change and melting glaciers. Developing new antibiotics with novel mechanisms of actions is another important although very difficult way out.

Aminoglycosides are effective against many ESBL producing organisms and are often used as an alternative to carbapenems in the treatment of urosepsis. Carbapenem resistance is rising and about 80% of such organisms are also producing ‘amino glycoside modifying enzymes’ limiting our treatment options further. Plazomicin is an aminoglycoside that is engineered to evade modification by aminoglycoside- modifying enzymes, and it maintains activity in the presence of most mechanisms that lead to resistance in Enterobacteriaceae, including mutations in sites targeted by fluoroquinolones and the production of aminoglycoside-modifying enzymes, extended-spectrum β-lactamases, and carbapenemases.

Here is the EPIC study in NEJM reporting efficacy of once daily plazomicin vs meropenem, for complicated urinary tract infections (UTIs): composite cure (clinical cure and microbiologic eradication) at day 5 [88.0% (168 of 191 patients) in the plazomicin group and in 91.4% (180 of 197 patients) in the meropenem group (–3.4 95% CI –10.0 to 3.1)], and at the test-of-cure visit-15 to 19 days after initiation of therapy-[81.7% (156 of 191 patients) and 70.1% (138 of 197 patients) respectively (11.6 ; 95% CI, 2.7 to 20.3). 

Plazomicin performed better in UTIs by ESBL producers, aminoglycoside resistant organisms and also had higher microbiological cure rates and lower relase rates: these finding can only be hypothesis generating given the “noninferiority”design of the trial. Renal dysfucntion, as expected, was more common with Plazomicin (11 vs 4 patients). As with all antibiotic therapies, local susceptibility patterns and selection pressures make it important to see data in other geographic areas. 

Welcome Plazomicin! 

2) Genetic basis for CKD in adult

While children with CKD are often evaluated with genetic testing, adults typically are not. You may consider expanding genetic evaluation even in adults after reading this clinical investigation in Kidney International. Whole exome sequencing (WES) was performed in a multi- centre cohort of 114 families including 138 affected individuals with CKD, across nephrology services in Ireland. Pathogenic mutation in known monogenic CKD genes was detected in more than one-third of families. The yield was highest in those with extrarenal features (69%), followed by those with positive family history (36%) and least (15%) in those without either of these. 

Authors hypothesize that later-onset disease is due to allelic heterogeneity, with “milder” phenotypes likely attributable to “milder” missense mutations. 

This exercise is likely to be further more fruitful in populations (like the one we encounter) where aetiology of CKD is uncertain in large majority of young and middle aged adults. Screening for extra renal disease, and potential avoidance of kidney biopsies and donor risk stratification are other proposed advantages of this testing. 

Irish population, higher than usual prevalence of familial CKD and possibility of missing deletion–insertion, copy-number variants, or mutations residing within a promotor or other intronic region (WES doesn’t capture these) are the limitations. Another important issue is the uncerainty about how to deal with the other genetic information that is typically unmasked by WES and this can potentially create anxiety and initiate additional diagnostic workup. Don’t miss this accompanying editorial.

CKDu researcher community can consider incorporating WES along with other evaluations. 

3) Rate of correction of hypernatremia and health outcomes in critically il

Rapid correction of hyponatremia is associated with definite harm. What should be the rate of correction for hypernatremia? We don’t know. “Go-slow- strategy” is extrapolated from the principles of hyponatremia management . Here is a retrospective observational study in CJASN, reporting the association of the rate of hyponatremia correction and outcomes (in hospital mortality and length of hospital stay).

In hospital 30-day mortality in rapid (>0.5 mmol/L per hour) and slower (<0.5 mmol/L per hour) correction rate groups was not significant either in patients with hypernatremia at admission (25% versus 28%; P=0.80) or in patients with hospital acquired hypernatremia (44% vs 40%;P=0.50). There was no difference in aOR of mortality for rapid vs slow correction in either admission (aOR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.5 to 3.7) or hospital-acquired hypernatremia (aOR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.8 to 2.3). 

This is now the largest cohort study addressing the issue of rate of hypernatremia correction, and can reassure us to correct dehydration in these patients (there were no cases of cerebral edema in the 78 patients who had serum sodium correction of 12 mmol/L per day). 

Several important limitations should be noted though: inability to identify exact timing of onset of hyponatremia, exclusion of patients with milder hypernatremia limiting generalisability to patients with serum Na 145-155 (>155 was inclusion criteria), lack of information about etiology, types of fluids used for treatment, reliance on ICD coding and patient chart. 30-40% patients were DNR-highlighting the type of patient population that generally develop severe hyponatremia and outcomes here will be principally driven by underlying illness, with hypernatremia being just a marker of its severity. 

4) Contribution of non-HLA incompatibility to kidney allograft survival: genome-wide analysis study 

Why do half of the renal allografts fail by 15 years post transplant? Chronic antibody mediated graft injury underlies many of the graft losses after initial few years, even in HLA matched individuals, highlighting the importance of non HLA alloimmunity. 
In this prospective genome wide association study involving 477 pairs of deceased donors and recipients, genome wide mismatches in non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (nsSNPs) were calculated to identify incompatibilities in transmembrane and secreted proteins. In 25 patients with biopsy-confirmed chronic antibody-mediated rejection, customised peptide arrays were generated to screen for antibodies against genotype-derived mismatched epitopes. 
The degree of nsSNP mismatch was independently associated with graft loss in a multivariable model adjusted for HLA eplet mismatch. Each increase by a unit of one IQR had an HR of 1·68 (95% CI 1·17–2·41, p=0·005). 5-year death censored graft survival was 98% in the quartile with the lowest mismatch, 91% in the second quartile, 89% in the third quartile, and 82% in the highest quartile (p=0·003, log-rank test). 

In the absence of effective therapy, chronic ABMR is almost the point of no return for recipients. Whether immunological risk stratification using non HLA mismatches help prevent this process will be interesting to see. 

5) Low dose daily versus alternate day prednisolone in frequently relapsing nephrotic syndrome

Initial strategy for children with frequently relapsing nephrotic syndrome is to use long term alternate day prednisolone. However, many children do relapse on this regimen.

In a single-centre open-label randomised controlled trial, Yadav et al tested efficacy and safety of 12-month therapy with prednisolone administered daily low-dose versus on alternate days (standard therapy) in 61 patients with FRNS.

Children receiving daily prednisolone had significantly fewer relapses than those on alternate day therapy (0.55 relapses/person-year VS 1.94). Daily therapy was associated with higher rates of sustained remission at six months and lower rates of treatment failure (defined as frequent relapses, steroid toxicity or infections) at six months and one year. The cumulative prednisolone dose was similar in both the groups. Adverse effects were not different in the two groups.
If an adequately powered study confirms this observation, it will strengthen the KDIGO suggestion of using daily prednisolone at the lowest dose where alternate day prednisolone therapy is not effective. 

6) SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists for nephroprotection and cardioprotection in patients with diabetes mellitus and chronic kidney disease

Fellows preparing for their final theory exam, here is a theory long question stuff for you: “Unmet need of Renoprotection addressed by newer antidiabetic drugs”. EUropean REnal and CArdiovascular Medicine (EURECA-m) and Diabesity workgroup of ERA-EDTA summarise the cardioprotective and nephroprotective effects of SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists. You will have to squint to find the limitations of the trials though (reviewed in depth here and here by us before).

Here is a quote from this review: “Although EMPA-REG OUTCOME, CANVAS and DECLARE-TIMI 58 were not studies with primary renal endpoints, an objective (!) reader cannot overlook that a 40–50% reduction in the composite outcome is much larger than relevant reductions in seminal trials in DKD.” Curiously missing mentions about FDA warnings- DKA, foot amputations, genital infections, fractures. Everyone is smitten with SGLT2 inhibitors! 
Let’s wait for CREDENCE.

7) Effects of Hemodiafiltration versus Conventional Hemodialysis in Children with ESKD

Alternative RRT techniques like HDF are looked upon as a hope to improve the dismal long term survival of dialysis patients. RCTs do not show clear survival benefit, however, jury isn’t out yet and HDF is increasingly used (18% of ESRD cases in Europe) for many of its possible benefits.

There is little data on efficacy of HDF in children and this observational study is a important first step. In this prospective cohort study of 190 children from 28 centers, Shroff et al noted that the children on HDF grew better: annualized change in height SD score remained static in HD, but showed a small but statistically significant increase in HDF (Δ=20.16; P=0.02), so that patients on HDF were taller than patients on HD at 12 months (P=0.04).

Carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) is a non-invasive surrogate marker for atherosclerotic changes in the artery. HDF group fared better in terms of cMIT SD score. At 1-year follow-up, the cIMT SD score increased by median 0.41 in the HD group and decreased by 0.07 in the HDF group (P=0.02).

Patient-reported outcomes like post-dialysis recovery time, headaches, dizziness, and cramps favoured HDF group. There was no difference in sleep disturbances, pruritus, or restless leg syndrome between groups. If transplant isn’t an option, children are expected to have maximum dialysis vintage, so may benefit by alternative dialysis therapies. Lets hope to see more data from randomised controlled trials.

January 2019

1 Diuretic use in incident ESRD

Hospitalizations in patients initiated on dialysis are common-especially in the first year- and are associated increased risk of death. What if a drug can address this burning issue?

According to this retrospective, database analysis of a large dialysis organization, the continuation of loop diuretics after hemodialysis initiation was associated with lower rates of hospitalization (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.93; 95% CI 0.89 to 0.98) and intradialytic hypotension (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.95; 95% CI 0.92 to 0.99) as well as lower interdialytic weight gain (P=0.03). No difference in the 1 yr mortality was observed (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.84 to 1.01)! Oh dear confidence interval, couldn’t you limit yourself to <1 here, like you did it for hospitalizations and hypotension? You just prevented a breakthrough in dialysis medicine that kidney doctors are longing for!

Confounding by indication (which can still exist even after sophisticated analysis you do for adjusting) is the major issue with data like this, where patients who are more likely to receive drug (diuretic here) are also the ones who are less likely to experience the adverse outcome that one plans to evaluate (hospitalizations, hypotension, and interdialytic weight gain) because they are inherently different. Why upon the earth one would put someone on diuretic when the last hyperfiltrating nephron has stopped making urine?

It won’t be a surprise if another such large database analysis shows the mortality benefit of diuretic; based upon the results, we need not start or stop prescribing diuretics to HD starters. One ml by the kidney is worth liters by machine!


2 Total versus subtotal parathyroidectomy for secondary hyperparathyroidism

Compared with parathyroidectomy (PTX) for primary hyperparathyroidism, the mortality and morbidity rates are higher in secondary hyperparathyroidism. Reviewed here by us before.

In a retrospective study of 824 patients in the Swedish Renal Registry, the outcome of the cardiovascular event (a composite outcome of acute myocardial infarction, transitory ischaemic attack, ischaemic or hemorrhagic stroke, ruptured aortic aneurysm, and acute limb ischemia) was a lower after subtotal parathyroidectomy (436 patients) compared with total parathyroidectomy (388 patients): adjusted HR of 0.43 (95% CI 0.25–0.72). The 90-day mortality was 2% both after subtotal parathyroidectomy and total parathyroidectomy.

The risk of re-PTX was higher after subtotal PTX compared with total PTX, with an adjusted HR (95 % CI) of 3.33 (1.33–8.32). There were no differences in the adjusted risk of hip fracture.

The paper does not describe the indications for which total v/s subtotal parathyroidectomy was done. We could assume that all these patients were refractory to medical management and the decision of subtotal v/s total PTX was based on the clinical or biochemical severity. Confounding by indication is the elephant in the room here. Clinical practices and surgical expertise vary widely making it difficult to extrapolate these results to day-to-day practice.

The only thing we know for sure in CKD-MBD literature is that we don’t know enough about CKD-MBD. While we can go on finding the optimum PTH target, the lower PTH level achieved by parathyroidectomy does not appear to help reduce cardiovascular mortality.

3 Zoledronic Acid to Prevent Bone Loss in the First Year after Kidney Transplantation

If you are one of those whose prescription of the post KTR patient is incomplete without a bisphosphonate, then here is a news for you. In an open-label, a single center trial evaluating the safety (risk of adynamic bone disease) and efficacy of zoledronic acid (effect on bone histomorphometry, DXA, HR-pQCT-this stands for high resolution peripheral quantitative CT, and bone biochemical measures like sclerostin, bone-specific ALP, tartarate resistant ALP -quite a list!). This probably will be the first RCT in this area and also first in CKD-MBD actually using bone biopsy.

Zoledronate didn’t increase the risk of ABD, and KTR itself decreased the bone turnover questioning the routine use of bisphosphonates in the contemporary immunosuppression era where steroids aren’t used in high doses and calcium+vitamin D use is a routine.

The study is limited by the small sample size and short follow up. Whether the promising effect of zoledronate on some surrogate bone markers and BMD at the peripheral skeleton (like radius, tibia where fractures after KTR are more likely than central skeleton) will become relevant after longer follow up remains to be seen.

If one is seriously considering bisphosphonate in KTR recipient with high fracture risk, zolendronate obviously scores over others in terms of cost and compliance.

4 APOL1 in non-African Americans

APOL1 risk allele is implicated in a higher prevalence of HTN, CKD, faster GFR decline and earlier onset ESRD among African-Americans. According to this NEJM letter reporting global frequencies of APOL1 risk variants among 111 populations in two large studies [the Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology Study ( and the Consortium on Asthma among African-ancestry Populations in the Americas (www.caapa-project .org)], this risk may not be restricted to the African -Americans as traditionally believed.

Authors found other populations with elevated frequencies, including Jamaican, Barbadian, Grenadian, and Brazilian from Salvador (>10 to 22%); Trinidadian, Panamanian, Honduran, Haitian, Garifunan, and Palenque (>5 to 10%); and Guyanese, Dominican, Peruvian, Belizean, and Native American (1 to 5%). These findings show that the risk alleles are present in populations of persons who are not typically screened, which may result in the underdiagnosis and undertreatment of kidney disease and related coexisting conditions.

5 Tweaking Nephrogenesis to Boost Nephron Number

What can be offered to patients with such elevated risk of kidney disease apart from a genetic diagnosis? This ‘Clinical Implications of Basic Research’ series article  “Tackling Tsc1 to Promote Nephrogenesis” (I just love their graphic!), discusses exciting findings of basic research by Volovelsky et al.

Nephron number at birth is variable (200,000 to more than 2.5 million per kidney) and ‘lower nephron endowment’ is believed to be a nonmodifiable risk. 14 different cell types at ‘ureteric bud-mesenchymal niche interface’ regulated by various genes and growth factors make modulating the complex process of nephrogenesis difficult. Volovelsky et al in an interesting experiment in mice showed that it’s not impossible though.

They noted that deletion of both copies of Tsc gene  (Tsc1 encodes for a protein hemartin which prolonged nephrogenesis in vitro), led to a lethal phenotype with markedly aberrant kidneys while deleting only one Tsc1 allele, they observed slightly prolonged nephrogenesis, which involved an increase in nephron progenitor cells within the niche and resulted in an increase of 25% in nephron endowment. Hamartin (and its downstream effectors) is a candidate target for experimental approaches to protecting at-risk infants and perhaps to treat- ing kidney disease in children and adults. Bravo! Waiting to see more.


6 SGLT2 inhibition repairs pumps, pipes, and filter! 

Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People was elegantly transported to India in his last movie Ganshatru (although not among the best of Satyajit Ray.) The film depicts Dr. Ashoke Gupta (Soumitra Chatterji) as an idealistic doctor working in a town near Calcutta who discovers that the water at a popular temple is the source of an outbreak of typhoid and hepatitis. In order to save lives, he risks his career by voicing the issue. His efforts are thwarted by a local group of building contractors. Here is an adaptation of Ganshatru for our readers:

The city engineer Intmed was in charge of the water supply and drainage. He was the master of his job and citizens were happy with his services. Occasionally, he used to call plumbing agency Corona, pumping company Cardio, and filter supplier Kidnee. Water was clean, citizens responsible, everything going fine. 

For some strange reason, the city got afflicted with a curious habit: the habit of flushing greasy food into the drain water leading to blockade of the pipes and repeated breakdowns. Intmed warned citizens of this potential problem but his words fell on the dumb ears. Services of plumber Corona and pump Cardio were needed with increasing frequency, which led them to separate from Intmed’s City Engineering department and formation of separate agencies of their own-now no more in control of Intmed. Sometimes chronic stagnation of the contaminated water also started affecting filtration and clogging of filters was reported. Albus was a protein that used to start leaking as filters started getting damaged. Interruption of water supply due to filter clogging was actually a rare event, however as soon as Albus appeared in the water (filter suppliers educated citizens to check Albus in the water regularly to detect filter clogging early, however, neither citizens, not agencies were aware of how best to treat the clogged filters and which filters will ultimately need to be replaced). Intmed questioned this strategy of Albus testing and its relation with actual filter clogging but by now everyone including regulators had accepted Albus testing as a valid method to predict filter failures. 

With a close watch on disruption in the city, 3 industrialist Jansyn, Astrazi, and Boingel claimed that they can address this burning issue without routinely requiring plumbing, pumping and filter agencies. They invented a bullet- Flozina that required to be fired into the water at the supply and claimed to address pipe blockades, pump failures, and clogged filters all at once-last one being most effectively addressed.

To convince authorities, they just needed to show that Albus level in the water has gone down and the flow rates past the filters are marginally better. Whether this would actually translate into prevention of filter failures is yet to be proven however this news that a bullet can save the city became viral after getting publicity in the leading newspapers Fancet, LEJM and others. Volumes are already been written (find the latest here) and many more are in making-praising the role of Flozina in restoring city’s messed up water supply system to order. Will Flozina be effective and safe? Will plumbers, and filter agencies go out of the job? Stay tuned for more to come.