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1.  Toll-Like Receptor Family Polymorphisms Are Associated with Primary Renal Diseases but Not with Renal Outcomes Following Kidney Transplantation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(10):e0139769.
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in innate- and adaptive immunity. The TLR pathways were shown to play key functional roles in experimental acute and chronic kidney injury, including the allo-immune response after experimental renal transplantation. Data about the precise impact of TLRs and their negative regulators on human renal transplant outcomes however are limited and contradictory. We studied twelve non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of which eleven in TLR1-8 and one in SIGIRR in a final cohort comprising 1116 matching donors and recipients. TLR3 p.Leu412Phe and SIGIRR p.Gln312Arg significantly deviated from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and were excluded. The frequency distribution of the minor alleles of the remaining 10 TLR variants were compared between patients with end-stage renal disease (recipients) and controls (kidney donors) in a case-control study. Secondly, the associations between the minor allele frequency of the TLR variants and delayed graft function, biopsy-proven acute rejection and death-censored graft failure after transplantation were investigated with Cox regression. Carrier frequencies of the minor alleles of TLR1 p.His305Leu (OR = 4.79, 95% CI = 2.35–9.75, P = 0.0002), TLR1 p.Asn248Ser (OR = 1.26, 95% CI = 1.07–1.47, P = 0.04) and TLR8 p.Met1Val (OR = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.14–1.64, P = 0.008) were significantly higher in patients with ESRD, with little specificity for the underlying renal disease entity (adjusted for age, gender and donor-recipient relatedness). The minor allele frequency of none of the TLR variants significantly associated with the surrogate and definite outcomes, even when multivariable models were created that could account for TLR gene redundancy. In conclusion, genetic variants in TLR genes were associated with the prevalence of ESRD but not renal transplant outcomes. Therefore, our data suggests that specific TLR signaling routes might play a role in the final common pathway of primary renal injury. A role for TLR signaling in the context of renal transplantation is probably limited.
PMCID: PMC4596574  PMID: 26445497
2.  UMOD as a susceptibility gene for end-stage renal disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:78.
In recent genetic association studies, common variants including rs12917707 in the UMOD locus have shown strong evidence of association with eGFR, prevalent and incident chronic kidney disease and uromodulin urinary concentration in general population cohorts. The association of rs12917707 with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in a recent case-control study was only nominally significant.
To investigate whether rs12917707 associates with ESRD, graft failure (GF) and urinary uromodulin levels in an independent cohort, we genotyped 1142 ESRD patients receiving a renal transplantation and 1184 kidney donors as controls. After transplantation, 1066 renal transplant recipients were followed up for GF. Urinary uromodulin concentration was measured at median [IQR] 4.2 [2.2-6.1] yrs after kidney transplantation.
The rs12917707 minor allele showed association with lower risk of ESRD (OR 0.89 [0.76-1.03], p = 0.04) consistent in effect size and direction with the previous report (Böger et al, PLoS Genet 2011). Meta-analysis of these findings showed significant association of rs12917707 with ESRD (OR 0.91 [0.85-98], p = 0.008). In contrast, rs12917707 was not associated with incidence of GF. Urinary uromodulin concentration was lower in recipients-carriers of the donor rs12917707 minor allele as compared to non-carriers, again consistent with previous observations in general population cohorts.
Our study thus corroborates earlier evidence and independently confirms the association between UMOD and ESRD.
PMCID: PMC3495046  PMID: 22947327
UMOD; Uromodulin; Polymorphisms; SNP; End-stage renal disease; Kidney transplantation
3.  CUBN as a Novel Locus for End-Stage Renal Disease: Insights from Renal Transplantation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36512.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a complex disorder. As genome-wide association studies identified cubilin gene CUBN as a locus for albuminuria, and urinary protein loss is a risk factor for progressive CKD, we tested the hypothesis that common genetic variants in CUBN are associated with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and proteinuria. First, a total of 1142 patients with ESRD, admitted for renal transplantation, and 1186 donors were genotyped for SNPs rs7918972 and rs1801239 (case-control study). The rs7918972 minor allele frequency (MAF) was higher in ESRD patients comparing to kidney donors, implicating an increased risk for ESRD (OR 1.39, p = 0.0004) in native kidneys. Second, after transplantation recipients were followed for 5.8 [3.8–9.2] years (longitudinal study) documenting ESRD in transplanted kidneys – graft failure (GF). During post-transplant follow-up 92 (9.6%) cases of death-censored GF occurred. Donor rs7918972 MAF, representing genotype of the transplanted kidney, was 16.3% in GF vs 10.7% in cases with functioning graft. Consistently, a multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that donor rs7918972 is a predictor of GF, although statistical significance was not reached (HR 1.53, p = 0.055). There was no association of recipient rs7918972 with GF. Rs1801239 was not associated with ESRD or GF. In line with an association with the outcome, donor rs7918972 was associated with elevated proteinuria levels cross-sectionally at 1 year after transplantation. Thus, we identified CUBN rs7918972 as a novel risk variant for renal function loss in two independent settings: ESRD in native kidneys and GF in transplanted kidneys.
PMCID: PMC3344899  PMID: 22574174
4.  CCR5Δ32 Genotype Leads to a Th2 Type Directed Immune Response in ESRD Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31257.
In patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) we observed protection from inflammation-associated mortality in CCR5Δ32 carriers, leading to CCR5 deficiency, suggesting impact of CCR5Δ32 on inflammatory processes. Animal studies have shown that CCR5 deficiency is associated with a more pronounced Th2 type immune response, suggesting that in human CCR5Δ32 carriers the immune response may be more Th2 type directed. So, in the present study we determined the Th1-Th2 type directed immune response in ESRD patients carrying and not carrying the CCR5Δ32 genetic variant after stimulation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We tested this hypothesis by determining the levels of IFN-γ and IL-4 and the distribution of Th1, Th2 and Th17 directed circulating CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and regulatory T cells (Tregs) after stimulation in ESRD patients with (n = 10) and without (n = 9) the CCR5Δ32 genotype. The extracellular levels of IFN-γ and IL-4 did not differ between CCR5Δ32 carriers and non carriers. However, based on their intracellular cytokine profile the percentages IL-4 secreting CD4+ and CD8+ T cells carrying the CCR5Δ32 genotype were significantly increased (p = 0.02, respectively p = 0.02) compared to non carriers, indicating a more Th2 type directed response. Based on their intracellular cytokine profile the percentages IFN-γ and IL-17 secreting T cells did not differ between carriers and non-carriers nor did the percentage Tregs, indicating that the Th1, Th17 and T regulatory response was not affected by the CCR5Δ32 genotype.
This first, functional human study shows a more pronounced Th2 type immune response in CCR5Δ32 carriers compared to non carriers. These differences may be involved in the previously observed protection from inflammation-associated mortality in ESRD patients carrying CCR5Δ32.
PMCID: PMC3278436  PMID: 22348061

Results 1-4 (4)