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Researchers identify cause for diabetic kidney disease
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2018.02.01 11:13
  • Updated 2018.02.01 11:13
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Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have identified genes responsible for diabetic kidney disease and its pathogenesis.

Professor Kwon Hyug-moo

Diabetic kidney disease is a type of kidney disease caused by diabetes. Kidney damage caused by diabetes usually occurs slowly and can cause wastes to build up in a patient’s body while causing other health problems.

The research team led by Professor Kwon Hyug-moo looked at what changes early in diabetes lead to kidney damage. The team found out that high blood sugar causes inflammation of immune cells (macrophages) and damages the kidneys. When the blood sugar in the body is high, it begins to believe that a virus or bacteria has infiltrated it. The macrophage then starts an inflammatory reaction that attacks the infiltration forces, which leads to the macrophages infiltrating into the kidneys and damage elaborate kidney tissue.

The research team found that a gene called “TonEBP” causes the overall process of hyperglycemia leading to the inflammatory response of macrophages to damage the kidneys. The team confirmed the theory after the kidney disease did not appear when they removed the TonEBP gene in rats with diabetes.

The mutation of the TonEBP gene also had the same effect on human diabetes. Kwon’s team, along with professors from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the U.S., found that variations in the TonEBP gene in white patients caused inflammation and kidney damage.

“By identifying genetic mutations that can predict diabetic kidney, we can predict the onset on early diabetic patients and open a way for an early prevention treatment,” Kwon said. “Currently, the team is developing inhibitors of the TonEBP gene and will continue to carry out related studies to contribute to the health of more patients.”

The results of the study were published in Journal of American Society of Nephrology, a globally renowned kidney journal.

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