Division of Geriatrics

Chronic Kidney Disease and Muscle Wasting

Matthew K. Abramowitz, MD

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is often associated with muscle atrophy, a loss of lean body mass that increases patients' risk of mortality and drastically reduces their quality of life. Currently there is no known treatment for muscle wasting in patients with chronic kidney disease. New research by Dr. Matthew Abramowitz, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Nephrology) and Epidemiology & Population Health, will examine how inflammation affects changes in patients' skeletal muscle structure and function as they begin kidney dialysis.

Kidney dialysis (the mechanized process of eliminating waste and unwanted water from the blood) may promote inflammation and induce muscle breakdown; increased inflammation after dialysis initiation may promote muscle wasting and decline. Dr. Abramowitz’s study of 100 patients over a 5-year period, one of the first to follow patients as they transition into dialysis, will examine muscle wasting at biochemical, physiologic, and clinical levels, defining how inflammation relates to changes in skeletal muscle physiology, lean body mass, and physical function in patients who have not yet begun dialysis, and to determine how transitioning to dialysis affects these parameters. “It is often difficult to predict whether starting dialysis will improve muscle wasting and functional impairment in a particular patient, especially those who are older,” said Dr. Abramowitz. “By focusing on the role of inflammation in this process, we hope to identify parameters that will help us develop better prognostic tools and, ultimately, new treatment options for these patients.”

Dr. Abramowitz’s research, mentored by a multidisciplinary team including Dr. Joe Verghese, Chief of the integrated Divisions of Cognitive and Motor Aging (Neurology) and Geriatrics (Medicine), could lead to future studies investigating the effects of anti-inflammatory medications on muscle wasting in patients with chronic kidney disease, focusing particularly on the timing of anti-inflammatory therapy to most effectively preserve muscle mass and function in patients as they transition to dialysis.


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