Beta-glucans in advanced CKD: role in endotoxaemia and inflammation.
(1-3)-β-D glucans (BG) are cellular components of yeasts and fungi. Elevated blood levels may be an adjunct in diagnosing invasive fungal infection, though can be high in dialysis patients without fungaemia. BG can also induce false positive signals in endotoxin detection assays (Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate [LAL] assay). We explored the relationship between BG levels, renal impairment, endotoxaemia and inflammation.We measured serum BG levels, markers of inflammation and blood endotoxin levels in 20 controls, 20 with stages 1-3 chronic kidney disease (CKD), 20 with stages 4-5 CKD, 15 on peritoneal dialysis (PD) and 60 on haemodialysis (HD). Another 30 patients were studied before and after HD initiation.BG levels increased with advancing CKD, being highest in HD patients, 22% of whom had elevated levels (> 80 pg/ml). Levels increased significantly following HD initiation. Levels also correlated positively with CRP, TNFα, IL-6 levels, independently of CKD stage. Blood endotoxin was detectable by LAL assays in 10-53% of the CKD cohort, being most prevalent in the HD group, and correlating positively with BG levels. Adding BG blocking agent to the assay reduced endotoxin detection confining it to only 5% of HD patients. Levels of inflammatory markers were higher in those with detectable endotoxin – whether false- or true positives.BG levels increased with decreasing renal function, being highest in dialysis patients. High BG levels were associated with false positive blood endotoxin signals, and with markers of inflammation, independently of CKD stage. The cause for high BG levels is unknown but could reflect increased gut permeability and altered mononuclear phagocytic system function.