Microbiology & Immunology Publications

Moderate Renal Impairment and Toxic Metabolites Produced by the Intestinal Microbiome: Dietary Implications

Document Type


Publication Date



Journal of Renal Nutrition





First Page


Last Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier



Objective: Toxic metabolites produced by the intestinal microbiome from animal proteins, carnitine (mainly from red meat), or phosphatidylcholine (mainly from egg yolk), have important adverse effects on cardiovascular disease. These are renally eliminated and may be termed gut-derived uremic toxins (GDUT). We hypothesized that even moderate renal impairment and intake of nutrient precursors would raise plasma levels of GDUT. Design: A cohort study. Setting: Academic medical center. Subjects: Patients attending stroke prevention clinics at a university medical center were recruited. Main Outcome Measure: Nutrient intake was assessed by the 131-item Harvard Food Frequency Questionnaire; estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was caculated using the Chronic Kidney Disease-Epidemiology (EPI) equations. Plasma levels of trimethylamine n-oxide, p-cresyl sulfate, hippuric acid, p-cresyl glucuronide, pheny acetyl glutamine, and phenyl sulfate were measured by ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Results: Among 316 patients recruited, the mean (standard deviation [SD]) age was 66.74 (10.42) years; 59.7% were men. Mean eGFR was 76.03 ± 20.01; 57 (18%) had eGFR/min/1.73 m . Plasma levels of all GDUT were significantly higher even with moderate reduction of eGFR. Nutrient intake affected plasma levels of some GDUT; the effects differed by eGFR above and below 60 mL/min/1.73 m . Plasma levels were obtained fasting, so we probably underestimated the effect of nutrient intake. Conclusions: Even moderate impairment of renal function was associated with higher plasma levels of GDUT. This has dietary implications for patients at risk of atherosclerosis, particularly in those with impaired renal function (including the elderly): they should limit intake of animal protein, red meat, and egg yolk. It also points the way to novel approaches to vascular prevention, including more intensive dialysis, renal transplantation, and modification of the intestinal microbiome with probiotics or fecal transplantation. 2 2

This document is currently not available here.