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Receptor protein appears to be key in breakdown of kidney filtration
Date:12/19/2007

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have identified a new molecular pathway that appears to be involved in urinary protein loss (proteinuria). This early-stage kidney disease affects 100 million people around the world and is caused by a breakdown in the kidneys filtering structures. Blocking this pathway could be a treatment for the condition and might significantly slow the process of kidney failure. The research teams findings will appear in Nature Medicine and have been released online.

Weve identified a mechanism that underlies common forms of urinary protein loss and have data showing that it is operative in humans and in animal models of proteinuria, says Jochen Reiser, MD, PhD, director of the Program in Glomerular Disease at the MGH Renal Division, the studys senior author.

Targeting this mechanism with antibodies or small molecule compounds can prevent or decrease proteinuria in animals, which may represent a novel therapy for kidney diseases such as diabetic nephropathy and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, adds Changli Wei, MD, PhD, first author of the article.

The kidneys filtering activity takes place in clusters of blood vessels called glomeruli. Within those structures, extensions from cells called podocytes wrap around blood vessels. Tiny slits in the podocytes filter out excess water and waste materials, keeping larger proteins and blood cells inside the vessels. In several types of kidney disease, podocytes shrink and lose their structure, which compromises the filtering slits, allowing protein molecules to leak into the urine.

In the current study, the authors establish for the first time that the podocyte extensions called foot processes are capable of motion. In some kidney disorders, excess motility of these structures may be involved in the breakdown of podocytes that leads to proteinuria. To investigate this possibility, the researchers focused their attention on molecules known
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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