Organic Pollutant Exposure and CKD: A Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Pilot Study

CRIC Study Investigators

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Rationale & Objective: This study aimed to assess the effect of exposure to organic pollutants in adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Study Design: This was a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis. Setting and Participants: Forty adults enrolled in the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC). Exposures: Exposure at baseline and longitudinally to various organic chemical pollutants. Outcomes: The outcomes were as follows: death; composite of congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, and stroke; event-free survival from kidney failure or ≥50% decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR); and longitudinal trajectory of eGFR. Analytical Approach: We used high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry to measure urinary concentrations of bisphenols, phthalates, organophosphate pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, melamine, and cyanuric acid at years 1, 3, and 5 after enrollment in the CRIC. Univariate and multivariable logistic regression were used to examine the association of individual compounds and classes of pollutants with the outcomes. The Cox proportional hazards model and Kaplan-Meier method were used to calculate hazard ratios and 95% CIs for each class of pollutants. Results: Median baseline eGFR and urinary protein-to-creatinine ratio were 33 mL/min/1.73 m2 and 0.58 mg/g, respectively. Of 52 compounds assayed, 30 were detectable in ≥50% of participants. Urinary chemical concentrations were comparable in patients with CKD and healthy individuals from contemporaneous National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cohorts. Phthalates were the only class with a trend toward higher exposure in patients with CKD. There was an inverse relationship between exposure and the eGFR slopes for bisphenol F, mono-(3-carboxypropyl) phthalate, mono-benzyl phthalate, mono-[2-(carboxymethyl)hexyl] phthalate, and melamine. There were no associations between organic pollutant exposure and cardiovascular outcomes. Limitations: Small sample size, evaluation of single rather than combined exposures. Conclusions: Simultaneous measurement of multiple organic pollutants in adults with CKD is feasible. Exposure levels are comparable with healthy individuals. Select contaminants, especially in the phthalate class, may be associated with more rapid deterioration in kidney function. Plain-Language Summary: The effect of exposure to organic pollutants has not been studied in adults with chronic kidney disease. (CKD). To fill this gap, we measured the exposure to a wide range of chemicals that are found in plastics, personal care products, and food preparation. Overall, the exposure was similar to that noted in the healthy population living in the United States. Only select compounds, mainly phthalates, demonstrated a trend with a more rapid decline in kidney function. These findings provide a useful reference for future studies that aim to evaluate organic pollutant exposure in patients with CKD. This is significant because these exposures represent a modifiable risk factor for disease progression through alterations in diet or lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100778
JournalKidney Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Cardiovascular
  • chronic kidney disease
  • glomerular filtration rate
  • organic pollutant
  • proteinuria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Nephrology


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