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Better ways to predict kidney disease risk for African Americans
Date:10/13/2011

Washington, DC -- Compared to European Americans, African Americans are four to five times more likely to develop kidney failure. Also, family members of African Americans with kidney failure have an increased risk of developing kidney failure, which suggests that genetics may play a role in this skewed risk between races. Previous studies identified variants in a gene called APOL1 that may play a role. The APOL1 gene creates a protein that is a component of HDL, or good cholesterol.

An upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN) presents new research on the link between these variants and kidney disease in African Americans. "The five articles published in this issue launch a new era in investigating the underlying risks for developing two very common and complex kidney diseases in African Americans," said Eric G. Neilson M. D., editor-in-chief of JASN. "Susceptibility variants such as those in the APOL1 gene give scientists new tools for diagnosing and understanding certain diseases, and they could eventually provide new targets for drug therapy."

The five studies' findings are summarized below.

Ali Gharavi, MD (Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons) and his colleagues examined APOL1 gene variants in 74 healthy African Americans and African Americans with various common kidney disorders: 44 with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS, which is characterized by scarring of the kidneys), 21 with HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN, a secondary form of FSGS linked with HIV infection), and 32 with IgA nephropathy (which occurs when antibodies build up in the kidneys). Variants in the APOL1 gene often occurred in individuals with FSGS and HIVAN but not in those with IgA nephropathy. "This study confirms that genetic variation in the APOL1 gene is a major risk factor for two forms of kidney disease and that the risk imparted is significant enough that APOL1 testing
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Contact: Adrienne Lea
alea@asn-online.org
American Society of Nephrology
Source:Eurekalert

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