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1.  Susceptibility Gene search for Nephropathy and related Traits in Mexican Americans 
Molecular biology reports  2013;40(10):5769-5779.
The rising global epidemic of diabetic nephropathy (DN) will likely lead to increase in the prevalence of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality posing a serious burden for public health care. Despite greater understanding of the etiology of diabetes and the development of novel treatment strategies to control blood glucose levels, the prevalence and incidence rate of DN is increasing especially in minority populations including Mexican Americans. Mexican Americans with type 2 diabetes (T2DM) are three times more likely to develop microalbuminuria, and four times more likely to develop clinical proteinuria compared to non-Hispanic whites. Furthermore, Mexican Americans have a six fold increased risk of developing renal failure secondary to T2DM compared to Caucasians. Prevention and better treatment of DN should be a high priority for both health-care organizations and society at large. Pathogenesis of DN is multi-factorial. Familial clustering of DN-related traits in MAs show that DN and related traits are heritable and that genes play a susceptibility role. While, there has been some progress in identifying genes which when mutated influence an individual’s risk, major gene(s) responsible for DN are yet to be identified. Knowledge of the genetic causes of DN is essential for elucidation of its mechanisms, and for adequate classification, prognosis, and treatment. Self-identification and collaboration among researchers with suitable genomic and clinical data for meta-analyses in Mexican Americans is critical for progress in replicating/identifying DN risk genes in this population. This paper reviews the approaches and recent efforts made to identify genetic variants contributing to risk for DN and related phenotypes in the Mexican American population.
PMCID: PMC4334565  PMID: 24057238
Diabetic Nephropathy; Mexican Americans; ACR; GFR; Type 2 Diabetes; linkage; candidate gene; SNPs
2.  Periostin: novel tissue and urinary biomarker of progressive renal injury induces a coordinated mesenchymal phenotype in tubular cells 
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation  2011;27(7):2702-2711.
Periostin acts as an adhesion molecule during bone formation. Knowledge of its expression in kidney injury is scant.
We investigated periostin function and expression in vivo in Sprague–Dawley rats after 5/6 nephrectomy (Nx), in DBA2J mice with streptozotocin-induced diabetic nephropathy (SZ-DN) and unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) and in vitro in mouse distal collecting tubular cells (MDCT) and in tissue and urine from chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.
Periostin messenger RNA was increased after 5/6Nx and SZ-DN demonstrating generalizability of the increment in renal injury. Periostin was expressed predominantly in distal tubule (DT) epithelial cell cytoplasm in situ, in cells shed into the lumen, and, in lesser abundance, in glomeruli undergoing obsolescence, arterioles and in the tubulointerstitium in extracellular and intracellular locations. In affected DT after 5/6Nx, periostin expression appeared de novo, E-cadherin became undetectable and tubule cells displayed the mesenchymal marker proteins fibroblast-specific protein-1 (FSP1) and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9). Periostin overexpression in cultured MDCT cells dramatically induced MMP9 and FSP1 protein and suppressed E-cadherin. Periostin short interfering RNA blocked these changes. Urine periostin excretion increased over time after 5/6Nx, and it was also excreted in the urine of CKD patients. Urine periostin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at a cutoff of 32.66 pg/mg creatinine demonstrated sensitivity and specificity for distinguishing patients with CKD from healthy people (92.3 and 95.0%, respectively) comparing favorably with urine neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin.
These data demonstrate that periostin is a mediator and marker of tubular dedifferentiation and a promising tissue and urine biomarker for kidney injury in experimental models and in clinical renal disease.
PMCID: PMC3471549  PMID: 22167593
biomarker; chronic kidney disease; epithelial–mesenchymal transition; periostin
3.  A Genome-Wide Search for Linkage of Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) in the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81888.
Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a measure of kidney function, is heritable, suggesting that genes influence renal function. Genes that influence eGFR have been identified through genome-wide association studies. However, family-based linkage approaches may identify loci that explain a larger proportion of the heritability. This study used genome-wide linkage and association scans to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) that influence eGFR.
Genome-wide linkage and sparse association scans of eGFR were performed in families ascertained by probands with advanced diabetic nephropathy (DN) from the multi-ethnic Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) study. This study included 954 African Americans (AA), 781 American Indians (AI), 614 European Americans (EA) and 1,611 Mexican Americans (MA). A total of 3,960 FIND participants were genotyped for 6,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using the Illumina Linkage IVb panel. GFR was estimated by the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) formula.
The non-parametric linkage analysis, accounting for the effects of diabetes duration and BMI, identified the strongest evidence for linkage of eGFR on chromosome 20q11 (log of the odds [LOD] = 3.34; P = 4.4×10−5) in MA and chromosome 15q12 (LOD = 2.84; P = 1.5×10−4) in EA. In all subjects, the strongest linkage signal for eGFR was detected on chromosome 10p12 (P = 5.5×10−4) at 44 cM near marker rs1339048. A subsequent association scan in both ancestry-specific groups and the entire population identified several SNPs significantly associated with eGFR across the genome.
The present study describes the localization of QTL influencing eGFR on 20q11 in MA, 15q21 in EA and 10p12 in the combined ethnic groups participating in the FIND study. Identification of causal genes/variants influencing eGFR, within these linkage and association loci, will open new avenues for functional analyses and development of novel diagnostic markers for DN.
PMCID: PMC3866106  PMID: 24358131
4.  Chronic kidney disease, hypovitaminosis D, and mortality in the United States 
Kidney international  2009;76(9):977-983.
Low serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) predicts a higher cardiovascular risk in the general population. Because patients with chronic kidney disease are more likely to have low serum 25OHD, we determined the relationship between hypovitaminosis D and death in this group. Analysis was done using a cohort composed of 3011 patients from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey who had chronic kidney disease but were not on dialysis and who had a mean follow-up of 9 years. In analyses adjusted for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, serum phosphorus, albumin, hemoglobin, stage of chronic kidney disease, albuminuria, and socioeconomic status, individuals with serum 25OHD levels less than 15 ng/ml had an increased risk for all-cause mortality when compared to those with levels over 30 ng/ml. This significantly higher risk for death with low serum 25OHD was evident in 15 of the 23 subgroups. The higher risk for cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular mortality became statistically nonsignificant on multivariable adjustment. The trend for higher mortality in patients with 25OHD levels 15–30 ng/ml was not statistically significant. Our results indicate there is a graded relationship between serum 25OHD and the risk for death among subjects with chronic kidney disease who are not undergoing dialysis. Randomized, controlled trials are needed to conclusively determine whether vitamin D supplementation reduces mortality.
PMCID: PMC3791220  PMID: 19657329
cardiovascular; chronic kidney disease; mortality; non-cardiovascular; vitamin D
5.  Genetic Association and Gene-Gene Interaction Analyses in African American Dialysis Patients With Nondiabetic Nephropathy 
African Americans (AAs) have increased susceptibility to non-diabetic nephropathy relative to European Americans.
Study Design
Follow-up of a pooled genome-wide association study (GWAS) in AA dialysis patients with nondiabetic nephropathy; novel gene-gene interaction analyses.
Setting & Participants
Wake Forest sample: 962 AA nondiabetic nephropathy cases; 931 non-nephropathy controls. Replication sample: 668 Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) AA nondiabetic nephropathy cases; 804 non-nephropathy controls.
Individual genotyping of top 1420 pooled GWAS-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 54 SNPs in six nephropathy susceptibility genes.
APOL1 genetic association and additional candidate susceptibility loci interacting with, or independently from, APOL1.
The strongest GWAS associations included two non-coding APOL1 SNPs, rs2239785 (odds ratio [OR], 0.33; dominant; p = 5.9 × 10−24) and rs136148 (OR, 0.54; additive; p = 1.1 × 10−7) with replication in FIND (p = 5.0 × 10−21 and 1.9 × 10−05, respectively). Rs2239785 remained significantly associated after controlling for the APOL1 G1 and G2 coding variants. Additional top hits included a CFH SNP(OR from meta-analysis in above 3367 AA cases and controls, 0.81; additive; p = 6.8 × 10−4). The 1420 SNPs were tested for interaction with APOL1 G1 and G2 variants. Several interactive SNPs were detected, the most significant was rs16854341 in the podocin gene (NPHS2) (p = 0.0001).
Non-pooled GWAS have not been performed in AA nondiabetic nephropathy.
This follow-up of a pooled GWAS provides additional and independent evidence that APOL1 variants contribute to nondiabetic nephropathy in AAs and identified additional associated and interactive non-diabetic nephropathy susceptibility genes.
PMCID: PMC3259209  PMID: 22119407
African American; APOL1; CFH; end-stage renal disease; FIND; FSGS; hypertension
6.  Genomewide Linkage Scan for Diabetic Renal Failure and Albuminuria: The FIND Study 
American Journal of Nephrology  2011;33(5):381-389.
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The multicenter FIND consortium aims to identify genes for DN and its associated quantitative traits, e.g. the urine albumin:creatinine ratio (ACR). Herein, the results of whole-genome linkage analysis and a sparse association scan for ACR and a dichotomous DN phenotype are reported in diabetic individuals.
A genomewide scan comprising more than 5,500 autosomal single nucleotide polymorphism markers (average spacing of 0.6 cM) was performed on 1,235 nuclear and extended pedigrees (3,972 diabetic participants) ascertained for DN from African-American (AA), American-Indian (AI), European-American (EA) and Mexican-American (MA) populations.
Strong evidence for linkage to DN was detected on chromosome 6p (p = 8.0 × 10−5, LOD = 3.09) in EA families as well as suggestive evidence for linkage to chromosome 7p in AI families. Regions on chromosomes 3p in AA, 7q in EA, 16q in AA and 22q in MA displayed suggestive evidence of linkage for urine ACR. The linkage peak on chromosome 22q overlaps the MYH9/APOL1 gene region, previously implicated in AA diabetic and nondiabetic nephropathies.
These results strengthen the evidence for previously identified genomic regions and implicate several novel loci potentially involved in the pathogenesis of DN.
PMCID: PMC3078269  PMID: 21454968
Albuminuria; Diabetes mellitus; Renal failure; End-stage renal disease; Linkage; Allelic association
7.  Curcumin activates the p38MPAK-HSP25 pathway in vitro but fails to attenuate diabetic nephropathy in DBA2J mice despite urinary clearance documented by HPLC 
Curcumin has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-proliferative properties, and depending upon the experimental circumstances, may be pro- or anti-apoptotic. Many of these biological actions could ameliorate diabetic nephropathy.
Mouse podocytes, cultured in basal or high glucose conditions, underwent acute exposure to curcumin. Western blots for p38-MAPK, COX-2 and cleaved caspase-3; isoelectric focusing for HSP25 phosphorylation; and DNase I assays for F- to G- actin cleavage were performed for in vitro analyses. In vivo studies examined the effects of dietary curcumin on the development of diabetic nephropathy in streptozotocin (Stz)-induced diabetes in DBA2J mice. Urinary albumin to creatinine ratios were obtained, high performance liquid chromatography was performed for urinary curcuminoid measurements, and Western blots for p38-MAPK and total HSP25 were performed.
Curcumin enhanced the phosphorylation of both p38MAPK and downstream HSP25; inhibited COX-2; induced a trend towards attenuation of F- to G-actin cleavage; and dramatically inhibited the activation of caspase-3 in vitro. In curcumin-treated DBA2J mice with Stz-diabetes, HPLC measurements confirmed the presence of urinary curcuminoid. Nevertheless, dietary provision of curcumin either before or after the induction of diabetes failed to attenuate albuminuria.
Apart from species, strain, early differences in glycemic control, and/or dosing effects, the failure to modulate albuminuria may have been due to a decrement in renal HSP25 or stimulation of the 12/15 lipoxygenase pathway in DBA2J mice fed curcumin. In addition, these studies suggest that timed urine collections may be useful for monitoring curcumin dosing and renal pharmacodynamic effects.
PMCID: PMC2999583  PMID: 21073732
8.  Genome-wide linkage scans for type 2 diabetes mellitus in four ethnically diverse populations; significant evidence for linkage on chromosome 4q in African Americans: the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) Research Group 
Previous studies have shown that, in addition to environmental influences, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has a strong genetic component. The goal of the current study is to identify regions of linkage for T2DM in ethnically diverse populations.
Phenotypic and genotypic data were obtained from African American (AA; total number of individuals (N)=1004), American Indian (AI; N=883), European American (EA; N=537), and Mexican American (MA; N=1634) individuals from the Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes. Nonparametric linkage analysis, using an average of 4,404 SNPs, was performed in relative pairs affected with T2DM in each ethnic group. In addition, family-based tests were performed to detect association with T2DM.
Statistically significant evidence for linkage was observed on chromosomes 4q21.1 (LOD=3.13; genome-wide p=0.04) in AA. In addition, a total of eleven regions showed suggestive evidence for linkage (estimated at LOD>1.71), with the highest LOD scores on chromosomes 12q21.31 (LOD=2.02) and 22q12.3 (LOD=2.38) in AA, 2p11.1 (LOD=2.23) in AI, 6p12.3 (LOD=2.77) in EA, and 13q21.1 (LOD=2.24) in MA. While no region overlapped across all ethnic groups, at least five loci showing LOD>1.71 have been identified in previously published studies.
The results from this study provide evidence for the presence of genes affecting T2DM on chromosomes 4q, 12q, and 22q in AA, 6p in EA, 2p in AI, and 13q in MA. The strong evidence for linkage on chromosome 4q in AA provides important information given the paucity of diabetes genetic studies in this population.
PMCID: PMC2783577  PMID: 19795399
FIND; Type 2 Diabetes; linkage analysis; ethnicity
9.  Heritability of the Severity of Diabetic Retinopathy: The FIND-Eye Study 
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic nephropathy (DN) are serious microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus. Correlations between severity of DR and DN and computed heritability estimates for DR were determined in a large, multiethnic sample of diabetic families. The hypothesis was that (1) the severity of DR correlates with the presence and severity of nephropathy in individuals with diabetes mellitus, and (2) the severity of DR is under significant familial influence in members of multiplex diabetic families.
The Family Investigation of Nephropathy and Diabetes (FIND) was designed to evaluate the genetic basis of DN in American Indians, European Americans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans. FIND enrolled probands with advanced DN, along with their diabetic siblings who were concordant and discordant for nephropathy. These diabetic family members were invited to participate in the FIND-Eye study to determine whether inherited factors underlie susceptibility to DR and its severity. FIND-Eye participants underwent eye examinations and had fundus photographs taken. The severity of DR was graded by using the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study Classification (ETDRS). Sib–sib correlations were calculated with the SAGE 5.0 program FCOR, to estimate heritability of retinopathy severity.
This report summarizes the results for the first 2368 diabetic subjects from 767 families enrolled in FIND-Eye; nearly 50% were Mexican American, the largest single ethnicity within FIND. The overall prevalence of DR was high; 33.4% had proliferative DR; 7.5%, 22.8%, and 9.5% had severe, moderate, and mild nonproliferative DR, respectively; 26.6% had no DR. The severity of DR was significantly associated with severity of DN, both by phenotypic category and by increasing serum creatinine concentration (χ2 = 658.14, df = 20; P < 0.0001). The sib–sib correlation for DR severity was 0.1358 in the total sample and 0.1224 when limited to the Mexican-American sample. Broad sense heritabilities for DR were 27% overall and 24% in Mexican-American families. The polygenic heritability of liability for proliferative DR approximated 25% in this FIND-Eye sample.
These data confirm that the severity of DR parallels the presence and severity of nephropathy in individuals with diabetes mellitus. The severity of DR in members of multiplex diabetic families appears to have a significant familial connection.
PMCID: PMC2583147  PMID: 18765632
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1983;71(3):487-499.
Intravenous cationic bovine serum albumin (BSA, pI > 9.5) induces membranous nephropathy in immunized rabbits. In this study, unimmunized rabbits received intravenous injections of cationic (n = 3) or native (n = 3) or native (n = 3) BSA, followed by ex vivo isolated left renal perfusions with sheep anti-BSA antibody. Capillary wall deposits of IgG and C3 were seen exclusively in the group receiving cationic BSA, confirming an in situ pathogenesis for cationic, BSA-induced membranous nephropathy, and demonstrating the importance of a cationic antigen for its production. We then explored whether membranous nephropathy in this model is prevented by the concomitant injection of protamine sulfate, a filterable, relatively non-immunogenic polycation. An in vitro study demonstrated that protamine sulfate incubated with glomerular basement membrane (GBM) decreased the subsequent binding of radiolabeled cationic BSA (P < 0.05). In vivo, protamine sulfate was shown to bind to anionic sites in the glomerular capillary wall after intravenous injection.
Groups of rabbits received 3 wk of daily intravenous injections of cationic BSA alone (n = 15) or cationic BSA and protamine (n = 18). After 2 wk of injection of cationic BSA alone, typical membranous nephropathy developed. Granular deposits of IgG and C3 were present along the GBM associated with subepithelial dense deposits, foot process effacement, and marked albuminuria. Protamine significantly reduced or prevented the formation of deposits (P < 0.001) and in6 of 18 protamine-treated animals, existing deposits decreased or disappeared between 2 and 3 wk of injection. Albuminuria was significantly reduced in protamine-treated animals with a mean of 124±55 mg/24 h compared to 632±150 mg/24 h in the control group receiving cationic BSA alone. No significant differences between the groups were noted in serum lev9lsof IgG, C3, anti-BSA antibody, or circulating immune complex size. Studies in additional animals (n = 5) given radiolabeled cationic BSA showed that protamine did not alter the clearance of cationic BSA from serum.
Control experiments showed that protamine's beneficial effects were not related to its weak anticoagulant property or toits theoretical ability to deplete tissue histamine. The administration of heparin (n = 6) or diphenhydramine (n = 6) had no effect on the development of the epimembranous lesion compared to the group receiving cationic BSA alone. In addition, homogenized whole kidney histamine content was not significantly different in the group receiving cationic BSA alone compared to the group receiving cationic BSA and protamine.
This work shows that a cationic BSA-induced glomerular lesion can be produced by a renal perfusion technique involving in situ complex formation and that this process requires a cationic antigen for its development. We believe that the demonstrated beneficial effects of protamine are due to its ability to bind to glomerular anionic sites, and that this electrostatic interaction results in inhibition for the further binding of the cationic antigen, thereby limiting the severity of glomerulonephritis in this model.
PMCID: PMC436896  PMID: 6826719

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