London: A new study has shed light on causes and treatment of a kidney disease associated with proteinuria-the leakage of protein in the urine.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found a protein that compromises the kidney`s filtering ability, causing nephrotic syndrome, and demonstrated that a naturally occurring precursor of an acid in the body offers potential for treating some forms of the condition.
Sumant Singh Chugh in the UAB Division of Nephrology said his research team, studying transgenic rats, discovered that in some forms of nephrotic syndrome, a protein called Angiopoietin-like 4 is over-produced in specialized cells called podocytes.
He said the researchers also determined that the Angiopoietin-like 4 protein lacks the attachment of adequate amounts of sialic acid, a modified carbohydrate that affects the protein`s adhesive properties.
By feeding sialic acid precursor ManNAc to transgenic rats that over-produce Angiopoietin-like 4 in podocytes, the researchers were able to increase the amount of protein-bound sialic acid, and reduce the amount of protein leakage into the urine by more than 40 percent.
"These findings, at present, most directly relate to minimal change disease, a form of nephrotic syndrome commonly seen in children, but are also likely to be relevant to common causes of proteinuria and nephrotic syndrome in adults, including those with diabetes," said Chugh.
The findings were published in Nature Medicine.