Removal of Protein-Bound UremicToxins Using Binding Competitors in Hemodialysis: A Narrative Review

Vaibhav Maheshwari, Xia Tao, Stephan Thijssen, Peter Kotanko

Removal of protein-bound uremic toxins (PBUTs) during conventional dialysis is insufficient. PBUTs are associated with comorbidities and mortality in dialysis patients. Albumin is the primary carrier for PBUTs and only a small free fraction of PBUTs are dialyzable. In the past, we proposed a novel method where a binding competitor is infused upstream of a dialyzer into an extracorporeal circuit. The competitor competes with PBUTs for their binding sites on albumin and increases the free PBUT fraction. Essentially, binding competitor-augmented hemodialysis is a reactive membrane separation technique and is a paradigm shift from conventional dialysis therapies. The proposed method has been tested in silico, ex vivo, and in vivo, and has proven to be very effective in all scenarios. In an ex vivo study and a proof-of-concept clinical study with 18 patients, ibuprofen was used as a binding competitor; however, chronic ibuprofen infusion may affect residual kidney function. Binding competition with free fatty acids significantly improved PBUT removal in pre-clinical rat models. Based on in silico analysis, tryptophan can also be used as a binding competitor; importantly, fatty acids or tryptophan may have salutary effects in HD patients. More chemoinformatics research, pre-clinical, and clinical studies are required to identify ideal binding competitors before routine clinical use.

About the Contributors

Stephan Thijssen, MD

Vice President, Applied and Basic Research

Prior to coming to New York, Stephan worked in the Nephrology Department at the University Hospital Homburg, Germany. He joined RRI in 2005. Stephan brings more than one and a half decades of research experience to the RRI team, covering laboratory research, clinical research, epidemiology research, and mathematical modeling.

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Dr. Peter Kotanko, MD

RRI Research Director

SVP, Corporate Research & Development

Peter Kotanko, MD, is Research Director at the Renal Research Institute (RRI), New York. Prior to joining RRI, from 1997 to 2007 he served as vice chair of a department of internal medicine at an academic teaching hospital in Graz, Austria. Prior to moving to Graz in 1989, he worked from 1982 to 1989 in the Department of Physiology and the University Clinic of Internal Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria. From 1995 to 1996 he trained in nephrology at the Hammersmith Hospital, London, United Kingdom.

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