Asymmetrical Dimethylarginine in Renal Disease: Limits of Variation or Variation Limits?
Asymmetrical dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase, is increasingly recognized as a putative biomarker in cardiovascular and renal disease. Elevated plasma levels of ADMA are the consequence of increased synthesis, reduced renal clearance or reduced enzymatic degradation. Based upon the metabolic fate the highest plasma concentrations of ADMA have been reported in patients with renal failure in whom this molecule accumulates. However, the range of published ADMA levels in patients with chronic renal failure as well as in patients with end-stage renal failure undergoing maintenance hemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis or kidney transplant recipients is widely scattered and overlaps with the levels reported in healthy individuals. This wide distribution can in part be explained by different bioanalytical techniques and the lack of standardization of such assays. This review summarizes available literature on ADMA in patients with kidney disease and stresses the urgent need for a consensus regarding reference values for different analytical methods in order to ap- preciate the prognostic significance of elevated ADMA levels. At present, one cannot advocate this molecule for risk assessment or individual patient prognosis in the clinical work-up of patients with renal impairment.