Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation

: 2003  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 451--455

The Effect of Vitamin E-Modified Dialyzers on Acute Intra-dialytic Symptoms: A Comparative Crossover Study

Danlami Tanimu1, Sameer Huraib1, Faissal AM Shaheen2, Fayez Hejaili1, Catherine Giles3, Victor Pagayon3,  
1 Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
3 Nursing Department, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Sameer Huraib
Nephrology and Hypertension Division, Department of Medicine, King Fahad National Guard Hospital, P.O. Box 22490, Riyadh 11426
Saudi Arabia


We performed a crossover study to compare the effect of vitamin E-modified dialyzers on acute intra-dialytic symptoms, with other membranes. Twenty patients on hemodialysis were studied. They were divided into two equal groups of low-flux (C15NL, E15NL) and high-flux (F60, EE15NL) membrane dialyzers. Within each group, a vitamin E-modified dialyzer was compared with another dialyzer in a crossover design over a two­month period. All study patients were seen during each dialysis session by a physician and the occurrence of intra-dialytic symptoms were recorded. There was a significant overall improvement in the incidence of acute intra-dialytic symptoms with the use of vitamin E­modified dialyzers as compared with the other membranes. This effect was more for cuprophane than polysulfone. The occurrence of hypotensive episodes did not differ. Our study indicates that we can achieve a reduction in the incidence of acute intra-dialytic symptoms with the use of vitamin E-modified membrane as compared to cuprophane and polysulfone.

How to cite this article:
Tanimu D, Huraib S, Shaheen FA, Hejaili F, Giles C, Pagayon V. The Effect of Vitamin E-Modified Dialyzers on Acute Intra-dialytic Symptoms: A Comparative Crossover Study.Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2003;14:451-455

How to cite this URL:
Tanimu D, Huraib S, Shaheen FA, Hejaili F, Giles C, Pagayon V. The Effect of Vitamin E-Modified Dialyzers on Acute Intra-dialytic Symptoms: A Comparative Crossover Study. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2003 [cited 2022 Jul 2 ];14:451-455
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Full Text


During hemodialysis a number of acute complications including intra-dialytic hypo­tension, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle cramps as well as fatigue at the end of dialysis session could occur. [1],[2],[3] The type of membrane used during dialysis may be important in causing some of these complications. [4] Biochemical and cellular mechanisms that are triggered off secondary to blood-membrane interaction probably play a role in the genesis of these symptoms. [5],[6],[7] Previous reports have shown that cellulosic membranes activate these pathways to a greater extent than biocompatible memb­ranes. [5],[6],[8] Accordingly, selection of the appropriate membrane has become an increasingly important element in the dialysis prescription. Additionally, hemodialysis has been demonstrated to generate oxygen free­radicals (OFR) as a consequence of the membrane material used. [9] Vitamin E-modified dialyzers were introduced in an attempt to improve the quality of hemodialysis filters with the double goal of improving biocom­patibility as well as protecting against OFR.

In the present study, we report the results of a crossover study comparing vitamin E­modified membranes to other membranes with respect to intra-dialytic symptoms.

 Patients and Methods

Twenty patients (10 males, 10 females), on three times per week maintenance hemo­dialysis for a mean duration of 26 + 5.2 months, were recruited for the study. Patients were stable on dialysis for at least four weeks prior to the commencement of the study without any acute illnesses. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants. The patients were then equally divided into two groups to receive dialysis therapy with either high- or low-flux memb­ranes with similar dialysis performance. Within each group, a vitamin E-modified dialyzer was compared to another dialyzer in a crossover design. Low-flux dialyzers used were C15NL (cellulose, Terumo) and E15NL (vitamin E-modified, Terumo), while high-flux dialyzers were F60 (polysulfone) and EE15NL (vitamin E-modified, Terumo). Ten patients underwent dialysis for two months with C15NL dialyzers and were subsequently switched to E15NL dialyzers which were used for the next two months. Similarly, the other 10 patients were treated with F60 dialyzers for two months and then switched to EE15NL dialyzers for the next two months.

All the patients were seen by a physician during each dialysis session. Observations on intra-dialytic symptoms and signs made by the staff during the course of each treatment were entered into the dialysis record. The various symptoms were recorded as either present or absent. Hypotension was defined as systolic blood pressure (SBP) less then 100 mm Hg or a drop in SBP by > 25 mm Hg, accompanied by symptoms.


The statistical package SIGMA STAT, 1993, was used to analyze the data. Analysis was carried out using chi square test with p + 9 years (range 26-60 years) and the mean duration on dialysis was 26 + 5.2 months. The primary renal disease of the study patients was as follows: chronic glomerulonephritis n=6, diabetic nephropathy n=3, chronic pyelo­nephritis n=3, unknown n=8. All patients received erythropoietin throughout the study period. There was an improvement in the overall intra-dialytic well being with the use of vitamin E-modified dialyzers as compared to cuprophane and polysulfone membranes. There was a statistically signi­ficant reduction in the incidence of the subset of "biocompatibility symptoms", such as chest pain, back pain and itching, with the use of E15NL as compared to C15NL, p [5],[6],[7],[8] In a crossover design, we studied the incidence of intra-dialytic symptoms in patients treated with the new vitamin E-modified dialyzers and compared the same with the use of other membranes. The results of this study showed a significant improvement in most of the intra-dialytic symptoms and an overall patient well-being when the vitamin E-modified dialyzers were used as compared to cuprophane and polysulfone membranes.

A few previous studies (not using vitamin E-modified membranes) have shown that there is no effect of membrane biocompatibility on symptoms during hemodialysis. [10],[11],[12],[13] Thus, Skroeder et al [10] showed no difference between using cuprophane, hemophane or polyamide membrane in the occurrence of intra-dialytic symptoms. The Bergamo Collaborative Dialysis Study Group [11] found no difference between cuprophane and high-flux polysulfone membrane. Similarly, Collins et al [12] did not find a significant difference in intra-dialytic symptoms between polyacrylonitrile and cuprophane membranes.

However, other reports have related the degree of biocompatibility of the dialyzer membrane, as expressed by the development of leucopenia and complement activation, with the development of intra­dialytic symptoms. [14],[15] The vitamin E­-modified dialyzers have been shown to cause less leukopenia and complement activation, [16] which might explain the significantly reduced incidence of intra­dialytic symptoms. We could not show any difference in the incidence of hypotension with the vitamin E-modified membranes, suggesting that hypotension may not necessarily be linked with biocompatibility. The vitamin E-modified membrane consists of three elements; a block polymer which masks the hydroxyl groups on cellulose, an oleyl alcohol that inhibits platelet aggre­gation and a vitamin E coating with anti­oxidant properties. Oxygen free radicals may play a pathogenic role in some hemo­dialysis related complications. [17] The vitamin E-modified membrane, in addition to anti-oxidant properties, has improved biocompatibility characteristics due to its multi-layered design aimed at limiting blood-membrane interaction.

These new dialyzers could be considered more biocompatible than other membranes because of their minimal inflammatory-type reaction with blood. Biocompatibility may affect not only acute intra-dialytic events, but could also have an impact on the long­term morbidity and complications. [18]

In summary, our study suggests that the use of vitamin E-modified dialyzers produces a significant improvement in intra-dialytic symptoms and overall patient well being when compared to cuprophane or polysulfone membranes.


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