Hemodialysis patients are prone to deficiency of vitamin C, which constitutes the most abundant nonenzymatic antioxidant in blood. Because antioxidants are involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, the authors examined the association of total vitamin C plasma level with cardiovascular outcomes in such patients. One hundred thirty-eight consecutive maintenance hemodialysis patients (median age 61 yr, 90 males) were enrolled in a single-center study. At baseline, routine laboratory parameters were recorded, and predialysis total vitamin C plasma levels were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography.
Patients were prospectively followed-up for the occurrence of a primary composite endpoint consisting of fatal and nonfatal major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. MACE occurred in 35 patients (25%) over a period of median 30 mo, and 42 patients (30%) died [29 cardiovascular deaths (21% of total)]. Using Cox proportional hazards modeling, adjusted hazard ratios for the occurrence of MACE were 3.90 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.42 to 10.67; P = 0.008) and 3.03 (95% CI: 1.03 to 8.92; P = 0.044) for patients in the lower (<32 µmol/L) and middle (32 to 60 µmol/L) tertile of total vitamin C levels, compared with patients in the upper tertile (>60 µmol/L). Hazard ratios for cardiovascular death were 3.79 (95% CI: 1.23 to 11.66; P = 0.020) and 2.89 (95% CI: 0.89 to 9.37; P = 0.076). Total vitamin C levels were not independently associated with all-cause mortality. This study concludes that low total vitamin C plasma levels predict adverse cardiovascular outcomes among maintenance hemodialysis patients. Future studies should address the potential protective effect of an adequate vitamin C supplementation.