Obesity/Kidney Disease Link Found
There’s a silent epidemic of kidney disease in the United States. About 26 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), and many millions more are suspected to have undiagnosed CKD, or to be at risk for the disease. Symptoms can be fairly general—including things like loss of appetite, or simply feeling lousy—and are easily missed. People with diabetes or high blood pressure are at greater risk of CKD. The kidneys make urine, of course, but they also play an important role in removing dangerous toxins from the body. When they fail, toxins build up in the circulation and can cause heart failure.
Obesity increases the risk of kidney failure in patients with CKD, and scientists have finally discovered why this happens. Doctors have known for years that obese patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) are more likely to suffer complete kidney failure. When that occurs, the patient needs regular dialysis to survive. The only alternative is a kidney transplant. In recent years, it’s become clear that losing weight can help reverse the course of the disease.
Japanese researchers showed recently that obesity interferes with the body’s ability to perform a sort of routine cellular housekeeping, called autophagy. This process ordinarily works to remove damaged cell parts and proteins, allowing healthy cells to remain intact and do their work efficiently. This new research adds to the growing mountain of evidence that obesity is a disease that increases the risk of other serious illnesses, posing serious risks to health. The finding also provides a novel target for scientists seeking to develop treatments for end-stage renal disease.
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Yamahara K, Kume S, Koya D, Tanaka Y, Morita Y, Chin-Kanasaki M, et al. Obesity-Mediated Autophagy Insufficiency Exacerbates Proteinuria-induced Tubulointerstitial Lesions. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013 Oct 3. [Epub ahead of print]