Alarm system discovered in the kidney

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Research teams from Leipzig and Magdeburg have taken a significant step towards the prevention of acute kidney disease. Under the leadership of Berend Isermann, Professor of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Diagnostics at the University of Leipzig and Peter Mertens, Director of the University Clinic for Kidney and Hypertension Diseases, Diabetology and Endocrinology in Magdeburg, a new type of protective system has been identified in the kidney. The discovery, which was recently published in the specialist journal "Kidney International", could open up new avenues for the treatment of acute and chronic inflammatory kidney diseases.

The results describe for the first time the anti-inflammatory effect of a cold shock protein in the kidney. Specialized cells in the renal corpuscles release the molecule under investigation and use it to prevent the activation of emergency signals in the kidney tissue," explains Mertens, comparing this mode of operation to a constantly activated safety alarm system that activates the blood defence system’s guards in the event of an interruption in order to release an inflammatory program of the blood defence system in the event of impending kidney damage.

When the studies were started more than seven years ago, we had expected the opposite result," says Professor Isermann. These results show that the inflammation in the kidney is actively inhibited. If this inhibition is removed, the kidney can react immediately. This work shows that the kidney has a very active role in controlling inflammation. This may enable new diagnostic or therapeutic approaches." So far, the findings have been obtained in cell cultures and animal models, which establishes a new model for organ communication. Future studies using human kidney tissue from biopsies are planned. "The protective mechanisms in the kidney were previously known primarily to prevent high blood pressure damage, but the new findings suggest that a separate communication system exists within the kidney to report malfunctions," says Mertens.

The research results open up new possibilities for future therapies that improve and maintain kidney communication. At the same time, they could help to prevent false alarms. In this context, the two research groups are planning further collaborations and projects. The study was funded by the German Research Foundation.

Original publication in Kidney International:

"Glomerular-tubular crosstalk via cold shock Y-box binding protein-1 in the kidney", Doi:­023.09.014