Background Endothelial dysfunction is an early manifestation of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and consistently observed in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We hypothesized that CKD is associated with systemic damage to the microcirculation, preceding macrovascular pathology. To assess the degree of "uremic microangiopathy", we have measured microvascular density in biopsies of the omentum of children with CKD. Patients and Methods Omental tissue was collected from 32 healthy children (0-18 years) undergoing elective abdominal surgery and from 23 age-matched cases with stage 5 CKD at the time of catheter insertion for initiation of peritoneal dialysis. Biopsies were analyzed by independent observers using either a manual or an automated imaging system for the assessment of microvascular density. Quantitative immunohistochemistry was performed for markers of autophagy and apoptosis, and for the abundance of the angiogenesis-regulating proteins VEGF-A, VEGF-R2, Angpt1 and Angpt2. Results Microvascular density was significantly reduced in uremic children compared to healthy controls, both by manual imaging with a digital microscope (median surface area 0.61% vs. 0.95%, p<0.0021 and by automated quantification (total microvascular surface area 0.89% vs. 1.17% p = 0.01). Density measured by manual imaging was significantly associated with age, height, weight and body surface area in CKD patients and healthy controls. In multivariate analysis, age and serum creatinine level were the only independent, significant predictors of microvascular density (r2 = 0.73). There was no immunohistochemical evidence for apoptosis or autophagy. Quantitative staining showed similar expression levels of the angiogenesis regulators VEGF-A, VEGF-receptor 2 and Angpt1 (p = 0.11), but Angpt2 was significantly lower in CKD children (p = 0.01). Conclusions Microvascular density is profoundly reduced in omental biopsies of children with stage 5 CKD and associated with diminished Angpt2 signaling. Microvascular rarefaction could be an early systemic manifestation of CKD-induced cardiovascular disease.
Burkhardt, D., Bartosova, M., Schaefer, B., Grabe, N., Lahrmann, B., Nasser, H., … Querfeld, U. (2016). Reduced microvascular density in omental biopsies of children with chronic kidney disease. PLoS ONE, 11(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0166050