Genetic cause to kidney disease?
Kidney disease is a growing public health problem, with approximately half a million individuals in the United States requiring dialysis treatments to replace the function of their failed kidneys.
The problem is particularly acute among African Americans, whose rates of kidney disease are four times higher than those of European Americans.
Now, a scientific team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, has discovered a genetic explanation for the higher incidence of kidney disease among African Americans.
As reported in the July 15 online issue of the journal Science, the study found that patients with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and hypertension-attributed end-stage kidney disease (H-ESKD) harbored variants in the APOL1 gene that changed the APOL1 protein sequence. These variants are commonly found in individuals of recent African ancestry.
Furthermore, in a twist of evolutionary medicine, the disease-causing variants may have protected Africans against a lethal parasite, explaining why these genetic variants are so common in the population today.
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