Blood biomarkers could pinpoint common kidney disease

An international team of researchers have found that abnormal proteins and antibodies that cause IgA nephropathy, a common form of kidney disease, can be used as biomarkers to spot early signs of the disease. With further development, these findings could be used to create tests to predict outcomes for patients, as well as help doctors to manage the disease. They also help in pointing out routes to agents that could prevent or treat the kidney damage.

IgA nephropathy develops when abnormal versions of IgA1, a normally occurring protein, build up in the kidneys and trigger an immune response. This can damage the kidneys, leading to high blood pressure and kidney failure. The researchers compared blood samples of people with and without IgA nephropathy and found that increasing levels of the abnormal proteins and the matching antibodies corresponded with increasingly severe disease, and the patients with the highest levels of antibodies had the highest risk of kidney failure needing dialysis and early death.

This is still at an early stage, as author Francois Berthoux of the University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, France, said: "This paper is a first step, and in the future we have to refine these tests to check the impact of different treatments on these serum biomarkers, and to imagine new therapies with direct impacts on modified IgA1 or on the specific antibody responses against it."

In the same publication, in an unconnected study, Canadian researchers estimated that 1 in 40 men and 1 in 60 women in Alberta, Canada, will develop kidney failure if they live into their 90s.

- read the press release
- see the abstract on biomarkers
- check out the abstract on lifetime risk

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