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1.  Urinary Vitamin D Binding Protein: A Potential Novel Marker of Renal Interstitial Inflammation and Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55887.
Non-invasive tubulointerstitial damage markers may allow better titration and monitoring of renoprotective therapy. We investigated the value of urinary vitamin D binding protein excretion (uVDBP) as a tubulointerstitial inflammation and fibrosis marker in adriamycin rats, and tested whether uVDBP parallels renal damage and responds to therapy intensification in humans. In adriamycin (ADR) rats, uVDBP was strongly elevated vs controls (CON) already 6 wks after nephrosis induction (ADR: 727±674 [mean±SD] vs CON: 9±12 µg/d, p<0.01), i.e. before onset of pre-fibrotic and inflammatory tubulointerstitial damage, and at all following 6-wk time points until end of follow up at 30 wks (ADR: 1403±1026 vs CON: 206±132 µg/d, p<0.01). In multivariate regression analysis, uVDBP was associated with tubulointerstitial macrophage accumulation (standardized beta = 0.47, p = 0.01) and collagen III expression (standardized beta = 0.44, p = 0.02) independently of albuminuria. In humans, uVDBP was increased in 100 microalbuminuric subjects (44±93 µg/d) and in 47 CKD patients with overt proteinuria (9.2±13.0 mg/d) compared to 100 normoalbuminuric subjects (12±12 µg/d, p<0.001). In CKD patients, uVDBP responded to intensification of renoprotective therapy (ACEi+liberal sodium: 9.2±13.0 mg/d vs dual RAAS blockade+low sodium: 2747±4013, p<0.001), but remained still >100-fold increased during maximal therapy vs normoalbuminurics (p<0.001), consistent with persisting tubulointerstitial damage. UVDBP was associated with tubular and inflammatory damage markers KIM-1 (standardized beta = 0.52, p<0.001), beta-2-microglobuline (st.beta = 0.45, p<0.001), cystatin C (st.beta = 0.40, p<0.001), MCP-1 (st.beta = 0.31, p<0.001) and NGAL (st.beta = 0.20, p = 0.005), independently of albuminuria. UVDBP may be a novel urinary biomarker of tubulointerstitial damage. Prospectively designed studies are required to validate our findings and confirm its relevance in the clinical setting.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055887
PMCID: PMC3569442  PMID: 23409077
2.  Proteinuria Triggers Renal Lymphangiogenesis Prior to the Development of Interstitial Fibrosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50209.
Proteinuria is an important cause of progressive tubulo-interstitial damage. Whether proteinuria could trigger a renal lymphangiogenic response has not been established. Moreover, the temporal relationship between development of fibrosis, inflammation and lymphangiogenesis in chronic progressive kidney disease is not clear yet. Therefore, we evaluated the time course of lymph vessel (LV) formation in relation to proteinuria and interstitial damage in a rat model of chronic unilateral adriamycin nephrosis. Proteinuria and kidneys were evaluated up to 30 weeks after induction of nephrosis. LVs were identified by podoplanin/VEGFR3 double staining. After 6 weeks proteinuria was well-established, without influx of interstitial macrophages and myofibroblasts, collagen deposition, osteopontin expression (tubular activation) or LV formation. At 12 weeks, a ∼3-fold increase in cortical LV density was found (p<0.001), gradually increasing over time. This corresponded with a significant increase in tubular osteopontin expression (p<0.01) and interstitial myofibroblast numbers (p<0.05), whereas collagen deposition and macrophage numbers were not yet increased. VEGF-C was mostly expressed by tubular cells rather than interstitial cells. Cultured tubular cells stimulated with FCS showed a dose-dependent increase in mRNA and protein expression of VEGF-C which was not observed by human albumin stimulation. We conclude that chronic proteinuria provoked lymphangiogenesis in temporal conjunction with tubular osteopontin expression and influx of myofibroblasts, that preceded interstitial fibrosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050209
PMCID: PMC3506584  PMID: 23189189
3.  Vitamin K Intake and Plasma Desphospho-Uncarboxylated Matrix Gla-Protein Levels in Kidney Transplant Recipients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47991.
Vitamin K is essential for activation of γ-carboxyglutamate (Gla)-proteins including the vascular calcification inhibitor matrix Gla-protein (MGP). Insufficient vitamin K intake leads to production of uncarboxylated, mostly inactive proteins and contributes to an increased cardiovascular risk. In kidney transplant recipients, cardiovascular risk is high but vitamin K intake and status have not been defined. We investigated dietary vitamin K intake, vascular vitamin K status and its determinants in kidney transplant recipients. We estimated vitamin K intake in a cohort of kidney transplant recipients (n = 60) with stable renal function (creatinine clearance 61 [42–77] (median [interquartile range]) ml/min), who were 75 [35–188] months after transplantation, using three-day food records and food frequency questionnaires. Vascular vitamin K status was assessed by measuring plasma desphospho-uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP). Total vitamin K intake was below the recommended level in 50% of patients. Lower vitamin K intake was associated with less consumption of green vegetables (33 vs 40 g/d, p = 0.06) and increased dp-ucMGP levels (621 vs 852 pmol/L, p<0.05). Accordingly, dp-ucMGP levels were elevated (>500 pmol/L) in 80% of patients. Multivariate regression identified creatinine clearance, coumarin use, body mass index, high sensitivity-CRP and sodium excretion as independent determinants of dp-ucMGP levels. In a considerable part of the kidney transplant population, vitamin K intake is too low for maximal carboxylation of vascular MGP. The high dp-ucMGP levels may result in an increased risk for arterial calcification. Whether increasing vitamin K intake may have health benefits for kidney transplant recipients should be addressed by future studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047991
PMCID: PMC3485347  PMID: 23118917
4.  UMOD as a susceptibility gene for end-stage renal disease 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:78.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Our study thus corroborates earlier evidence and independently confirms the association between UMOD and ESRD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-78
PMCID: PMC3495046  PMID: 22947327
UMOD; Uromodulin; Polymorphisms; SNP; End-stage renal disease; Kidney transplantation
5.  Indomethacin Reduces Glomerular and Tubular Damage Markers but Not Renal Inflammation in Chronic Kidney Disease Patients: A Post-Hoc Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37957.
Under specific conditions non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to lower therapy-resistant proteinuria. The potentially beneficial anti-proteinuric, tubulo-protective, and anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs may be offset by an increased risk of (renal) side effects. We investigated the effect of indomethacin on urinary markers of glomerular and tubular damage and renal inflammation. We performed a post-hoc analysis of a prospective open-label crossover study in chronic kidney disease patients (n = 12) with mild renal function impairment and stable residual proteinuria of 4.7±4.1 g/d. After a wash-out period of six wks without any RAAS blocking agents or other therapy to lower proteinuria (untreated proteinuria (UP)), patients subsequently received indomethacin 75 mg BID for 4 wks (NSAID). Healthy subjects (n = 10) screened for kidney donation served as controls. Urine and plasma levels of total IgG, IgG4, KIM-1, beta-2-microglobulin, H-FABP, MCP-1 and NGAL were determined using ELISA. Following NSAID treatment, 24 h -urinary excretion of glomerular and proximal tubular damage markers was reduced in comparison with the period without anti-proteinuric treatment (total IgG: UP 131[38–513] vs NSAID 38[17–218] mg/24 h, p<0.01; IgG4: 50[16–68] vs 10[1–38] mg/24 h, p<0.001; beta-2-microglobulin: 200[55–404] vs 50[28–110] ug/24 h, p = 0.03; KIM-1: 9[5]–[14] vs 5[2]–[9] ug/24 h, p = 0.01). Fractional excretions of these damage markers were also reduced by NSAID. The distal tubular marker H-FABP showed a trend to reduction following NSAID treatment. Surprisingly, NSAID treatment did not reduce urinary excretion of the inflammation markers MCP-1 and NGAL, but did reduce plasma MCP-1 levels, resulting in an increased fractional MCP-1 excretion. In conclusion, the anti-proteinuric effect of indomethacin is associated with reduced urinary excretion of glomerular and tubular damage markers, but not with reduced excretion of renal inflammation markers. Future studies should address whether the short term glomerulo- and tubulo-protective effects as observed outweigh the possible side-effects of NSAID treatment on the long term.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037957
PMCID: PMC3360674  PMID: 22662255
6.  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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036512
PMCID: PMC3344899  PMID: 22574174

Results 1-6 (6)