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Nephrology

Sertraline may be effective in treating uremic pruritus in patients on hemodialysis

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Sertraline, an antidepressant, may be a potential treatment option for uremic pruritus (UP) in patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD), according to a recent double-blinded, placebo-controlled, multicentric randomized clinical trial.

The study included 60 patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) who were undergoing regular HD. The patients were randomly assigned to receive either sertraline 50 mg twice daily or a placebo for a duration of 8 weeks. The severity of pruritus was assessed using the Visual analogue scale (VAS) and the 5-D itch scale before and after the treatment period.

At the end of the study, the group receiving sertraline showed a significant decrease in pruritus severity compared to baseline measurements, as indicated by a significant decrease in both the VAS score and the 5-D itch scale. In contrast, the placebo group showed only a slight non-significant decrease in the VAS score, and the 5-D itch scale increased from baseline measurements. Furthermore, the percentage of patients with severe and very severe pruritus significantly decreased in the sertraline group for both scores, whereas there was no significant change in the placebo group.

The study also found a significant positive relationship between the VAS and 5-D itch scores and serum urea levels, as well as serum ferritin levels.

Reference
Elsayed MM, Elgohary IE, Abdelhamid HHS, et al. The effectiveness of sertraline in alleviating uremic pruritus in hemodialysis patients: a randomized clinical trial. BMC Nephrol. 2023;24(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s12882-023-03212-3. PMID: 37270517; PMCID: PMC10239082.

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