The complications of diabetes can be severe. Among the most debilitating is kidney damage and failure. And as the number of diabetes cases rises, kidney failure is becoming a significant health problem without a good solution.
Oddly, some diabetes patients are highly susceptible to kidney failure, while others can withstand damage yet maintain function. Assistant Professor Ron Korstanje, Ph.D., recently published a paper that identifies genes in mice—and in humans—that may play roles in this variability.
"Our goal is to figure out which genes are involved in kidney damage progression," says Korstanje. "This will help us better understand the process and hopefully identify targets for intervention that allow us to maintain function and delay or eliminate the need for dialysis and transplants."
The paper, prepared in collaboration with researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, identifies nine regions in the mouse genome associated with age-related kidney damage across 30 mouse strains. Importantly, two corresponded with regions identified in human genomic studies as being associated with diabetic kidney damage in human type 1 diabetes.
"The next step is to identify the genes involved and their products," says Korstanje. "What do they do? How do they contribute to kidney damage susceptibility? And what can we do to intervene?"
Tsaih S-W, Pezzolesi MG, Yuan R, Warram JH, Krolewski AS, Korstanje R. 2009. Genetic analysis of albuminuria in aging mice and concordance with loci for human diabetic nephropathy found in a genome-wide association scan. Kidney International 77:201-210.