A team of nephrologists and researchers at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have discovered a factor in the blood that may be responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis or FSGS. They found that an excess of serum soluble urokinase receptor (suPAR) activates a protein in the kidney podocytes called ß3 integrin. The podocytes, which serve as a filtration barrier, begin to move and allow protein to pass into the urine. The process leads to breakdown and fusing of the podocytes, impaired filtration, and glomerular scarring. The scientists found that many patients with FSGS have elevated levels of suPAR in the blood. Therapies to reduce suPAR levels or stop the suPAR-ß3 interaction could one day prove beneficial. Tests for suPAR levels in the blood could also identify patients at risk of developing recurring FSGS after kidney transplantation.
Nephrologists Discover Cause of Common Kidney Disease, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, July 31, 2011