Study discovers a hormone can shield the kidney’s functioning in diabetic patients

Health & Fitness

 A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol has uncovered a mechanism by which a hormone can protect the blood arteries of the kidney from the detrimental effects of diabetes.

This discovery potentially offers an early therapeutic strategy to mitigate or halt the progression of kidney damage in individuals with diabetes.

The findings of the study, which received partial support from Kidney Research UK, were published in the journal Diabetes.

In the UK, diabetes stands as a major contributor to kidney failure. Approximately one out of every five individuals with diabetes will require treatment for kidney disease during their lifetime, with nearly one in three of those necessitating dialysis or transplantation having diabetes.

The financial implications of these treatments are borne by both patients and the National Health Service (NHS). Over time, diabetes inflicts gradual damage on the kidneys, often due to persistently high levels of blood sugar.

This damage affects the glycocalyx, a crucial layer within kidney filters. When compromised, the glycocalyx loses its ability to effectively prevent proteins such as albumin from being excreted through urine, serving as an early indicator of kidney disease in individuals with diabetes.

Dr. Rebecca Foster, Associate Professor of Microvascular Medicine in the Bristol Medical School: Translational Health Sciences (THS) and senior author of the study, explained: “We knew that adiponectin was protective, but we wanted to understand whether it might be acting by supporting the barrier function of the blood vessels to stop them from becoming leaky. We were excited because it was the first time this fat hormone had been shown to play a role in glycocalyx health. It’s a new mechanism of action.”

Adiponectin, a hormone produced by fat cells, exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, enhances glucose metabolism, and specifically affects blood vessels.

Individuals with diabetes often have low levels of adiponectin, yet it can protect the kidneys by reducing the excretion of albumin in urine. Research conducted on laboratory models of diabetic kidney disease (DKD) has demonstrated that adiponectin can mitigate damage to the glycocalyx, a protective layer within kidney filters, and thicken it, thereby decreasing vessel leakage.

Recent studies indicate that directing attention towards the adiponectin pathway may safeguard the integrity of the glycocalyx in diabetes, potentially preventing the onset of DKD.

Dr. Aisling McMahon from Kidney Research UK emphasizes the importance of averting severe kidney complications in individuals with diabetes, sparing them from demanding treatments, and alleviating the financial burden on the National Health Service (NHS).

Exploring the adiponectin pathway as a target could introduce a novel approach to preventing DKD, paving the way for the development of new preventive therapies through continued investigation.

The findings underscore the significance of early intervention to mitigate the risk of kidney disease in individuals with diabetes.

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