The Cardiorenal Syndrome type 4 (CRS-4) defines a pathological condition in which a primary chronic kidney disease (CKD) leads to a chronic impairment of cardiac function. The pathophysiology of CRS-4 and the role of arterial stiffness remain only in part understood. Several uremic toxins, such as uric acid, phosphates, advanced glycation end-products, asymmetric dimethylarginine, and endothelin-1, are also vascular toxins. Their effect on the arterial wall may be direct or mediated by chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Uremic toxins lead to endothelial dysfunction, intima-media thickening and arterial stiffening. In patients with CRS-4, the increased aortic stiffness results in an increase of cardiac workload and left ventricular hypertrophy whereas the loss of elasticity results in decreased coronary artery perfusion pressure during diastole and increased risk of myocardial infarction. Since the reduction of arterial stiffness is associated with an increased survival in patients with CKD, the understanding of the mechanisms that lead to arterial stiffening in patients with CRS4 may be useful to select potential approaches to improve their outcome. In this review we aim at discussing current understanding of the pathways that link uremic toxins, arterial stiffening and impaired cardiac function in patients with CRS-4.
Keywords: arterial stiffness, cardiorenal syndrome, chronic kidney disease, inflammation, intima-media thickness, uremic toxins