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Researchers identify gene variants that may cause kidney problems in lupus patients

  • - Urology / Nephrology News
  • Aug 23, 2013
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Variants in a particular gene are linked with an increased risk for kidney complications in patients with lupus, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). The findings could lead to better treatments to protect the kidney health of patients with the disease.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects many different body systems, including the central nervous system, joints, skin, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Kidney involvement - termed lupus nephritis - occurs in about 50% to 75% of patients, and up to 30% of those patients develop kidney failure. Currently, experts do not understand what makes some lupus patients susceptible to lupus nephritis.

David Powell, PhD, Dawn Caster, MD, and Erik Korte, MS (University of Louisville School of Medicine) led a team that looked at the role of a particular gene that may be involved. Their previous research conducted in collaboration with investigators in Scotland revealed that mice with an inactive form of the ABIN1 protein develop lupus-like disease and have enhanced activation of the NF-kappaB pathway. This pathway is involved with the control of inflammation.

In their current study, the researchers found that mice with inactive ABIN1 develop progressive kidney problems similar to lupus nephritis in humans. The investigators then sequenced the gene encoding ABIN1 in human samples. Comparing cases of lupus with nephritis and cases of lupus without nephritis revealed strong associations of lupus nephritis with a genetic variant called rs7708392 in European Americans and a variant called rs4958881 in African Americans. Comparing cases of lupus with nephritis and healthy controls revealed a stronger association at rs7708392 in European Americans, but not at rs4958881 in African Americans.

The findings suggest that variants in the gene that encodes ABIN1 are linked with an increased risk for lupus nephritis and could be mechanistically involved in disease development through aberrant regulation of NF-kappaB.

“Our studies identify genes of the NF-kappaB pathway as a focus for future work understanding the pathogenesis and therapy of lupus nephritis,” said Dr. Powell. “Understanding the role of genes in the NF-kappaB pathway in the development and severity of lupus nephritis provides the hope that personalized therapy for the condition may be possible,” he added. Current treatments for lupus nephritis consist of immunosuppressive drugs, which are effective in only about 50% of patients and are associated with undesirable short- and long-term side effects.

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Highlights

  Variants in the gene that encodes ABIN1 - which is involved in the control of inflammation—are linked with an increased risk for kidney complications in patients with lupus.
  The finding may point to improved treatments for kidney complications in patients with the disease.

Study co-authors include Sambit K. Nanda, Kenneth R. McLeish, Rebecca K. Oliver, Rachel T. G′Sell, Ryan M. Sheehan, Darrell W. Freeman, Susan C. Coventry, Jennifer A. Kelly, Joel M. Guthridge, Judith A. James, Kathy L. Sivils, Marta E. Alarcon-Riquelme, R. Hal Scofield, Indra Adrianto, Patrick M.Gaffney, Anne M. Stevens, Barry I. Freedman, Carl D. Langefeld, Betty P. Tsao, Bernardo A. Pons-Este0, Chaim O. Jacob, Diane L. Kamen, Gary S. Gilkeson, Elizabeth E. Brown, Graciela S. Alarcon, Jeffrey C. Edberg, Robert P. Kimberly, Javier Martin, Joan T. Merrill, John B. Harley, Kenneth M. Kaufman, John D. Reveille, Juan-Manuel Anaya, Lindsey A. Criswell, Luis M. Vila, Michelle Petri, Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, Sang-Cheol Bae, Susan A. Boackle, Timothy J. Vyse, Timothy B. Niewold, and Philip Cohen.

Disclosures: The authors reported no financial disclosures.

The content of this article does not reflect the views or opinions of The American Society of Nephrology (ASN). Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author(s). ASN does not offer medical advice. All content in ASN publications is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions, or adverse effects. This content should not be used during a medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Please consult your doctor or other qualified health care provider if you have any questions about a medical condition, or before taking any drug, changing your diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment. Do not ignore or delay obtaining professional medical advice because of information accessed through ASN. Call 911 or your doctor for all medical emergencies.

Founded in 1966, and with more than 14,000 members, the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) leads the fight against kidney disease by educating health professionals, sharing new knowledge, advancing research, and advocating the highest quality care for patients.

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Tracy Hampton
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American Society of Nephrology

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