The Impairment in Kidney Function in the Oral Anticoagulation Era. A Pathophysiological Insight

Pietro Scicchitano, Marco Tucci, Maria Consiglia Bellino, Francesca Cortese, Annagrazia Cecere, Micaela De Palo, Francesco Massari, Pasquale Caldarola, Francesco Silvestris, Marco Matteo Ciccone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The need for anticoagulation in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is fundamental to prevent thromboembolic events. Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) recently demonstrated to be superior, or at least equal, to Warfarin in reducing the risk for stroke/systemic embolism and preventing major bleeding and intracranial hemorrhages. The AF population often suffers from chronic kidney disease (CKD). Indeed, the relationship between AF and renal function is bidirectional: AF can trigger kidney failure, while kidney impairment can promote alterations able to enhance AF. Therefore, there are concerns regarding prescriptions of anticoagulants to patients with AF and CKD. The worsening in kidney function can be effectively due to anticoagulants administration. Warfarin has been recognized to promote acute kidney injury in case of excessive anticoagulation levels. Nevertheless, further mechanisms can induce the chronic worsening of renal function, thus leading to terminal kidney failure as observed in post-hoc analysis from registration trials and dedicated observational studies. By contrast, DOACs seem to protect kidneys from injuries more efficiently than Warfarin, although they still continue to play a role in promoting some kidney lesions. However, the exact mechanisms remain unknown. This narrative review aimed to discuss the influence of oral anticoagulants on renal impairment as well as to overview potential pathophysiological mechanisms related to this clinical complication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-519
Number of pages15
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Direct oral anticoagulants
  • Kidney failure
  • Oral anticoagulation
  • Warfarin-related nephropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'The Impairment in Kidney Function in the Oral Anticoagulation Era. A Pathophysiological Insight'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this