The endothelial cell layer is responsible for molecular traffic between the blood and surrounding tissue, and endothelial integrity plays a pivotal role in many aspects of vascular function. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the main cause of death in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and its incidence and severity increase in direct proportion with kidney function decline. Non-traditional risk factors for CVDs, including endothelial dysfunction (ED), are highly prevalent in this population and play an important role in cardiovascular (CV) events. ED is the first step in the development of atherosclerosis and its severity has prognostic value for CV events. Several risk markers have been associated with ED. Reduced bioavailability of nitric oxide plays a central role, linking kidney disease to ED, atherosclerosis, and CV events. Inflammation, loss of residual renal function, and insulin resistance are closely related to ED in CKD. ED may be followed by structural damage and remodelling that can precipitate both bleeding and thrombotic events. The endothelium plays a main role in vascular tone and metabolic pathways. ED is the first, yet potentially reversible step in the development of atherosclerosis and its severity has prognostic value for CV events. Therefore, evaluation of ED may have major clinical diagnostic and therapeutic implications. In patients with CKD, many risk factors are strongly interrelated and play a major role in the initiation and progression of vascular complications that lead to the high mortality rate due to CVD.
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