New insights into appetite, inflammation and the use of fish oil in hemodialysis patients

Zabel, Rachel Eve (2009) New insights into appetite, inflammation and the use of fish oil in hemodialysis patients. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Protein-energy wasting (PEW) is commonly seen in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The condition is characterised by chronic, systemic low-grade inflammation which affects nutritional status by a variety of mechanisms including reducing appetite and food intake and increasing muscle catabolism. PEW is linked with co-morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, and is associated with lower quality of life, increased hospitalisations and a 6-fold increase in risk of death1. Significant gender differences have been found in the severity and effects of several markers of PEW. There have been limited studies testing the ability of anti-inflammatory agents or nutritional interventions to reduce the effects of PEW in dialysis patients. This thesis makes a significant contribution to the understanding of PEW in dialysis patients. It advances understanding of measurement techniques for two of the key components, appetite and inflammation, and explores the effect of fish oil, an anti-inflammatory agent, on markers of PEW in dialysis patients. The first part of the thesis consists of two methodological studies conducted using baseline data. The first study aims to validate retrospective ratings of hunger, desire to eat and fullness on visual analog scales (VAS) (paper and pen and electronic) as a new method of measuring appetite in dialysis patients. The second methodological study aims to assess the ability of a variety of methods available in routine practice to detect the presence of inflammation. The second part of the thesis aims to explore the effect of 12 weeks supplementation with 2g per day of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), a longchain fatty acid found in fish oil, on markers of PEW. A combination of biomarkers and psychomarkers of appetite and inflammation are the main outcomes being explored, with nutritional status, dietary intake and quality of life included as secondary outcomes. A lead in phase of 3 months prior to baseline was used so that each person acts as their own historical control. The study also examines whether there are gender differences in response to the treatment. Being an exploratory study, an important part of the work is to test the feasibility of the intervention, thus the level of adherence and factors associated with adherence are also presented. The studies were conducted at the hemodialysis unit of the Wesley Hospital. Participants met the following criteria: adult, stage 5 CKD on hemodialysis for at least 3 months, not expected to receive a transplant or switch to another dialysis modality during the study, absence of intellectual impairment or mental illness impairing ability to follow instructions or complete the intervention. A range of intermediate, clinical and patient-centred outcome measures were collected at baseline and 12 weeks. Inflammation was measured using five biomarkers: c-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL6), intercellular adhesion molecule (sICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule (sVCAM-1) and white cell count (WCC). Subjective appetite was measured using the first question from the Appetite and Dietary Assessment (ADAT) tool and VAS for measurements of hunger, desire to eat and fullness. A novel feature of the study was the assessment of the appetite peptides leptin, ghrelin and peptide YY as biomarkers of appetite. Nutritional status/inflammation was assessed using the Malnutrition-Inflammation Score (MIS) and the Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA). Dietary intake was measured using 3-day records. Quality of life was measured using the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Short Form version 1.3 (KDQOL-SF™ v1.3 © RAND University), which combines the Short-Form 36 (SF36) with a kidney-disease specific module2. A smaller range of these variables was available for analysis during the control phase (CRP, ADAT, dietary intake and nutritional status). Statistical analysis was carried out using SPSS version 14 (SPSS Inc, Chicago IL, USA). Analysis of the first part of the thesis involved descriptive and bivariate statistics, as well as Bland-Altman plots to assess agreement between methods, and sensitivity analysis/ROC curves to test the ability of methods to predict the presence of inflammation. The unadjusted (paired ttests) and adjusted (linear mixed model) change over time is presented for the main outcome variables of inflammation and appetite. Results are shown for the whole group followed by analyses according to gender and adherence to treatment. Due to the exploratory nature of the study, trends and clinical significance were considered as important as statistical significance. Twenty-eight patients (mean age 61±17y, 50% male, dialysis vintage 19.5 (4- 101) months) underwent baseline assessment. Seven out of 28 patients (25%) reported sub-optimal appetite (self-reported as fair, poor or very poor) despite all being well nourished (100% SGA A). Using the VAS, ratings of hunger, but not desire to eat or fullness, were significantly (p<0.05) associated with a range of relevant clinical variables including age (r=-0.376), comorbidities (r=-0.380) nutritional status (PG-SGA score, r=-0.451), inflammatory markers (CRP r=-0.383; sICAM-1 r=-0.387) and seven domains of quality of life. Patients expressed a preference for the paper and pen method of administering VAS. None of the tools (appetite, MIS, PG-SGA, albumin or iron) showed an acceptable ability to detect patients who are inflamed. It is recommended that CRP should be tested more frequently as a matter of course rather than seeking alternative methods of measuring inflammation. 27 patients completed the 12 week intervention. 20 patients were considered adherent based on changes in % plasma EPA, which rose from 1.3 (0.94)% to 5.2 (1.1)%, p<0.001, in this group. The major barriers to adherence were forgetting to take the tablets as well as their size. At 12 weeks, inflammatory markers remained steady apart from the white cell count which decreased (7.6(2.5) vs 7.0(2.2) x109/L, p=0.058) and sVCAM-1 which increased (1685(654) vs 2249(925) ng/mL, p=0.001). Subjective appetite using VAS increased (51mm to 57mm, +12%) and there was a trend towards reduction in peptide YY (660(31) vs 600(30) pg/mL, p=0.078). There were some gender differences apparent, with the following adjusted change between baseline and week 12: CRP (males -3% vs females +17%, p=0.19), IL6 (males +17% vs females +48%, p=0.77), sICAM-1 (males -5% vs females +11%, p=0.07), sVCAM-1 (males +54% vs females +19%, p=0.08) and hunger ratings (males 20% vs females -5%, p=0.18). On balance, males experienced a maintainence or reduction in three inflammatory markers and an improvement in hunger ratings, and therefore appeared to have responded better to the intervention. Compared to those who didn’t adhere, adherent patients maintained weight (mean(SE) change: +0.5(1.6) vs - 0.8(1.2) kg, p=0.052) and fat-free mass (-0.1 (1.6) vs -1.8 (1.8) kg, p=0.045). There was no difference in change between the intervention and control phase for CRP, appetite, nutritional status or dietary intake. The thesis makes a significant contribution to the evidence base for understanding of PEW in dialysis patients. It has advanced knowledge of methods of assessing inflammation and appetite. Retrospective ratings of hunger on a VAS appear to be a valid method of assessing appetite although samples which include patients with very poor appetite are required to confirm this. Supplementation with fish oil appeared to improve subjective appetite and dampen the inflammatory response. The effectiveness of the intervention is influenced by gender and adherence. Males appear to be more responsive to the primary outcome variables than females, and the quality of response is improved with better adherence. These results provide evidence to support future interventions aimed at reducing the effects of PEW in dialysis patients.

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ID Code: 30248
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Ash, Susan, Bauer, Judith, & King, Neil
Keywords: chronic kidney disease, inflammation, anti-inflammatory agents, fish oil
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 04 Feb 2010 06:13
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:54

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