Background/Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a biocompatible and a nonbiocompatible hemodialysis membrane on the secretion of cytokines and their specific antagonists as well as on the expression of adhesion molecules. Methods: A crossover study using cuprophane (CU) and polysulfone (PS) dialyzers and measurements of serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, soluble TNF receptors, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-6 receptor, IL-2 receptor, IL-1 receptor antagonist and the adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule 1, endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule and vascular cell adhesion molecule was performed in 19 hemodialysis patients. 44 healthy volunteers served as controls. Results: All of the measured cytokines and cytokine antagonists as well as all adhesion molecules were significantly elevated in hemodialysis patients compared to controls. There was a significant increase in TNF-alpha during a dialysis session with a CU dialyzer, but only a moderate increase using a PS dialyzer. None of the other cytokines and adhesion molecules were changed during a dialysis session. We were also able to show an upregulation of adhesion molecules in dialysis patients. Conclusion: Our study clearly demonstrates that levels of inflammatory cytokines as well as their antagonists and adhesion molecules are elevated in patients on hemodialysis therapy. Baseline values before the start of a dialysis session did not show any differences with regard to the usage of CU or PS dialysis membranes. However, CU dialyzers led to a significantly greater stimulation of TNF-alpha during the dialysis session in comparison to PS membranes, suggesting a higher degree of bioincompatibility.

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