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Medication-Induced Nephrotoxicity in Older Patients

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 6 ]


Sergio Fusco, Sabrina Garasto, Andrea Corsonello, Silvio Vena, Vincenzo Mari, Pietro Gareri, Giovanni Ruotolo, Filippo Luciani, Arturo Roncone, Marcello Maggio and Fabrizia Lattanzio   Pages 608 - 625 ( 18 )


Objective: To summarize current evidence about mechanisms, clinical features, diagnostic issues, and strategies for prevention of medication-induced nephrotoxicity among older people.

Methods: A Pubmed search was performed, and studies concerning age-related changes in kidney structure and function predisposing to nephrotoxicity, pathophysiological mechanisms, kidney drug metabolism enzymes, clinical epidemiology of medication-induced kidney damage, biomarkers for early identification of nephrotoxicity and strategies for prevention of medication-induced nephrotoxicity among older people were selected. Finally, 245 papers were included in the review.

Results: Medications may induce nephrotoxicity through several pathophysiological mechanisms. People aged 75 or more are especially exposed to potential nephrotoxic medications or combinations of medications in the context of complex polypharmacy regimens. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) may be useful to identify medication-induced alterations in kidney function, but creatinine-based methods have important limitation in older patients. Several innovative biomarkers have been proposed to identify AKI but these methodologies are not standardized and older people have not been evaluated systematically. Factors related to patient, medication, and interactions should be taken into account for effective prevention.

Conclusions: Medication-induced nephrotoxicity is a relevant problem in older populations. Nevertheless, several areas of uncertainty remain to be explored, including the impact of nephrotoxicity on functional outcomes relevant to older patients, the reliability of currently recommended methods for diagnosing and staging AKI, the use of innovative biomarkers in such a heterogeneous population, the effectiveness of preventing strategies and treatments and their impact on functional outcomes.


Acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, drug interactions, elderly, nephrotoxicity, polypharmacy.


Unit of Geriatric Pharmacopidemiology, Italian National Research Centre on Aging, C. da Muoio Piccolo, 87100 Cosenza, Italy.

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