Chronic kidney disease (CKD) has emerged as a global public health problem. Although the incidence and prevalence of CKD vary from one country to another, the estimated worldwide prevalence is 8–16%. The complications associated with CKD include progression to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), mineral and bone disorders, anaemia, cognitive decline and elevated all-cause and cardiovascular (CV) mortality. As a result of progressive nephron loss, patients with late-stage CKD are permanently exposed to uraemic toxins. These toxins have been classified into three groups as a function of the molecular mass: small water-soluble molecules, middle molecules and protein-bound uraemic toxins. The compounds can also be classified according to their origin (i.e. microbial or not) or their protein-binding ability. The present review will focus on the best-characterized protein-bound uraemic toxins, namely indoxylsulfate (IS), indole acetic acid (IAA) and p-cresylsulfate (PCS, a cresol metabolite). Recent research suggests that these toxins accelerate the progression of CV disease, kidney disease, bone disorders and neurological complications. Lastly, we review therapeutic approaches that can be used to decrease toxin levels.

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