BACKGROUND: Predictors of haemoglobin (Hb) levels and resistance to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) in dialysis patients have not yet been clearly defined. Some mainly uncontrolled studies suggest that online haemodiafiltration (HDF) may have a beneficial effect on Hb, whereas no data are available concerning online haemofiltration (HF). The objectives of this study were to evaluate the effects of convective treatments (CTs) on Hb levels and ESA resistance in comparison with low-flux haemodialysis (HD) and to evaluate the predictors of these outcomes. METHODS: Primary multivariate analysis was made of a pre-specified secondary outcome of a multicentre, open-label, randomized controlled study in which 146 chronic HD patients from 27 Italian centres were randomly assigned to HD (70 patients) or CTs: online pre-dilution HF (36 patients) or online pre-dilution HDF (40 patients). RESULTS: CTs did not affect Hb levels (P = 0.596) or ESA resistance (P = 0.984). Hb correlated with polycystic kidney disease (P = 0.001), C-reactive protein (P = 0.025), ferritin (P = 0.018), ESA dose (P < 0.001) and total cholesterol (P = 0.021). The participating centres were the main source of Hb variability (partial eta(2) 0.313, P < 0.001). ESA resistance directly correlated with serum ferritin (P = 0.030) and beta2 microglobulin (P = 0.065); participating centres were again a major source of variance (partial eta(2) 0.367, P < 0.001). Transferrin saturation did not predict either outcome variables (P = 0.277 and P = 0.170). CONCLUSIONS: In comparison with low-flux HD, CTs did not significantly improve Hb levels or ESA resistance. The main sources of variability were participating centres, ESA dose and the underlying disease.
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