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Protein offers new clue to cause and treatment for kidney disease
Date:12/12/2010

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have pinpointed a protein that compromises the kidney's filtering ability, causing nephrotic syndrome, and demonstrated that a naturally occurring precursor of an acid in the body offers potential for treating some forms of the condition.

The research was published online Dec. 12 in Nature Medicine.

"This is a major breakthrough in understanding the development and treatment of kidney disease associated with proteinuria, the leakage of protein in the urine," said the study's lead author Sumant Singh Chugh, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the UAB Division of Nephrology.

Nephrotic syndrome is characterized by the presence of excessive protein in the urine, low blood-protein levels, high cholesterol, high triglycerides and swelling. Common causes include diabetic nephropathy, minimal change disease, focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis and membranous nephropathy. It also can be caused by infections, certain drugs, cancer, genetic disorders, immune disorders or diseases that affect multiple body systems including lupus, multiple myeloma and amyloidosis.

Chugh said his research team, studying transgenic rats, discovered that in some forms of nephrotic syndrome, a protein called Angiopoietin-like 4 is over-produced in specialized cells called podocytes. Podocytes are found in the glomerular filter, which cleans the blood to produce urine. As a result of the over-production, the efficiency of this filter is compromised, resulting in the loss of blood proteins in the urine. When this dysfunction is severe, it causes nephrotic syndrome.

Chugh said the researchers also determined that the Angiopoietin-like 4 protein lacks the attachment of adequate amounts of sialic acid, a modified carbohydrate that affects the protein's adhesive properties. By feeding sialic acid precursor ManNAc to transgenic rats that over-produce Angiopoietin-like 4 in po
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Contact: Jennifer Park Lollar
jpark@uab.edu
205-934-3888
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Source:Eurekalert

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