High-Risk Gene May Predict Kidney Failure in African-Americans

According to a recent study, a gene variant commonly found in African-Americans predicts that people with that gene who also have chronic kidney disease (CKD) are twice as likely to progress to kidney failure as African-Americans without the high-risk gene and white people with CKD. 

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The research also showed that people with the high-risk gene also tend to lose kidney function at twice the rate of those without the gene.

This gene variant, known as APOL1, demonstrated its impact on the risk for and rate of CKD progression in both research studies, independent of the patients’ good blood pressure control or diabetes status.

Afshin Parsa, MD, a nephrologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and a CRIC Study investigator stated, “This discovery provides direct evidence that African-Americans with established CKD and the APOL1 risk gene variant experience a faster decline in kidney function compared to their white counterparts, irrespective in most cases of what caused their kidney disease.”

The finding builds on a 2008 research conducted by NIH kidneys specialists, which found the APOL1 gene variant to be a risk factor for kidney disease that wasn’t associated with diabetes. Clinicians may be able to potentially genotype African-Americans with CKD to better assess their risk for disease progression.

Joint results from the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort (CRIC) Study and the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) have been published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

For more information call (301) 496-3583 or visit NIDDK.NIH.gov