A new ally may join the fight against kidney disease, one that my change treatment for the disease by restoring kidney functions from various forms of kidney disease.
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered that TMIGD1 (transmembrane and immunoglobulin containing 1) helps protect epithelial cells from injury, thus possibly avoiding kidney failure and morbidity associated with kidney injury. Epithelial cells support normal kidney function.
When the researchers reduced TMIGD1 protein in kidney epithelial cells, the cells became more prone to injury. But as TMIGD1 was increased, it seemed to protect the cells from injury. "This study demonstrates that by altering the function of TMIGD1, it is possible to reduce kidney epithelial cell death and possibly avoid the high incidence of kidney failure and morbidity associated with kidney injury," study co-author Nader Rahimi, Ph.D., associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at BUSM, said in a news release.
TMIGD1 belongs to a new class of proteins involved in cell-cell recognition (the process in which cells communicate with each other in response to changes in their environment). The first member of TMIGD1 called IGPR-1, was identified by the same group of researchers in early 2012. IGPR-1 is involved in tumor angiogenesis, or the development of new blood vessels.
Although kidneys have several roles, their primary function is to filter and remove waste products from the blood. An estimated 23 million Americans have chronic kidney disease (CKD), according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). High blood pressure and diabetes are the leading causes of the disease. If undetected, CKD can lead to irreversible kidney failure, requiring people with kidney failure to receive dialysis or a kidney transplant to live. BUSM’s news release noted that treatment for CKD consumes about $32.8 billion of the Medicare budget.
Vipul Chitalia, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at BSUM and a study co-author, said, "While dialysis and transplantation are considered the cornerstone of therapy for both forms of renal failure, none of these strategies directly targets the kidney proximal epithelial cells. Therapeutic agents that could protect these cells from death can prevent and retard renal damage, thus postponing dialysis or need for transplantation.”
The findings are published online in the American Journal of Pathology.
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