Although vascular and soft tissue calcification can be deadly, physicians currently have no reliable tools for determining an individual’s calcification risk. This is particularly pertinent to nephrologists and others who care for patients with compromised kidney function because pathologic vascular calcification has been called “the killer of patients with chronic kidney disease” (Mizobuchi M, et al. J Am Soc Nephrol 2009; 20:1453–1464).
“We currently have quite a good idea about pathomechanisms triggering progressive calcification, and we think we know about a number of clinical factors predicting calcification progression including hyperphosphatemia, high calcium burden, and inflammation,” said Markus Ketteler, MD, head of the division of nephrology at the University Hospital Würzburg, in Germany. “However, none of these factors shows a clear-cut linear relationship with the magnitude or progression of cardiovascular calcification or related events.”
Now a newly developed nanoparticle-based test, which is described in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, could change practice and provide an effective way to measure an individual’s overall propensity for calcification in serum (Pasch A, et al. J Am Soc Nephrol doi: 10.1681/ASN.2012030240 [published online ahead of print September 6, 2012]).
“This test may help to identify calcification-prone patients to guide and monitor their treatment. We regard this as an important step ahead in the field of calcification research and of potential importance for the treatment of patients with kidney disease worldwide,” said first author Andreas Pasch, MD, of University Hospital and University of Bern, Inselspital, in Switzerland.