Background: Predicting the mortality risk of patients un-dergoing hemodialysis (HD) is challenging. Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is released into circulation from dying cells, and its elevation is predictive of unfavorable outcome. In a pilot study, we found post-HD cfDNA level to be a predictor of all-cause mortality. Thus, the aim of this study was to confirm the prognostic power of cfDNA in a larger prospective cohort study conducted at 2 medical centers. Methods: CfDNA levels were measured by a rapid fluorometric assay on sera obtained before and after 1 HD session. One hundred fifty-three patients were followed up to 46 months for mortality during which time 47 patients died. We compared the predictive value of cfDNA to age, comorbidities, and standard blood tests. Results: Examining standard blood tests, only post-HD cfDNA levels were elevated in the non-survivor group compared to survivors (959 vs. 803 ng/mL, p = 0.04). Pre-and post-HD cfDNA levels correlated with age and diabetes. Patients with elevated cfDNA (>850 ng/mL) showed lower survival than those with normal levels. A Cox proportional hazard regression model demonstrated a significant hazard ratio of 1.92 for post-HD cfDNA levels. Logistic regression models showed that post-HD cfDNA was a significant predictor of mortality at 1-3 years with odd ratios of 4.61, 4.36, and 6.22, respectively. Conclusions: Post-HD cfDNA level was superior to standard blood tests and could serve as a biomarker to assist in decision-making for HD-treated patients.
- Cell-free DNA