Mimicking healthy kidney growth

Posted 25 Feb 2021

For hundreds of years, doctors have known that after a kidney is removed, the remaining kidney has a remarkable ability to naturally enlarge and increase its function to compensate for this loss.

This process is called renal compensatory hypertrophy - but how it does this remains elusive.

Flinders University Professor and Nephrologist Jonathan Gleadle has been awarded a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to build on previously funded work, to better understand this process of how one kidney grows when the other is removed.

In this research, Prof Gleadle, and a team of researchers including Darling Rojas-Canales and Elise Tucker, will focus on a protein called PAPP-A2, and investigate whether this protein controls the kidney growth, and identify the renal cells responsible for releasing PAPP-A2 and initiating the process.

“For most patients, chronic kidney disease is associated with a progressive and relentless decline in kidney function, often associated with decreasing kidney size,” Prof Gleadle explains.

“The current treatments for chronic kidney disease have limited effectiveness…and whilst resultant kidney failure can be treated with dialysis or transplantation, these treatments are onerous and costly with reduced quality of life and decreased survival.”

Prof Gleadle says identifying the mechanisms of renal compensatory hypertrophy – the natural kidney growth process - could lead to new therapies for kidney disease.

“There is a pressing need to develop novel strategies and therapies to prevent disease development and progression and which are applicable to all causes of chronic kidney disease,” Prof Gleadle says.

“The ability to mimic healthy compensatory hypertrophy provides a direct route to a completely innovative approach to deliver improvements in kidney size, function and patient outcomes.”


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