Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University have found that cytokine IL-17A, which promotes inflammation and contributes to autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, plays both a harmful and protective role in diabetic kidney disease. They began their studies intending to explore just the harmful effects of IL-17A, but soon found that removing the cytokine in mice actually increased kidney damage. They also noted that human patients with severe diabetic kidney disease had low levels of IL-17A in blood and urine. Administering small amounts of IL-17A to animals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes produced impressive results—preventing or reversing diabetic nephropathy as well as lowering high levels of fat in the blood. Interestingly, this intervention was most successful in advanced diabetic kidney disease. The scientists found that IL-17A protects by activating an anti-inflammatory molecule called AMWAP. The cytokine also plays a role in the survival and regeneration of podocytes and epithelial cells. They theorize that IL-17A could help or hurt depending on how long it has been activated. As they continue to unravel the mysteries behind IL-17A, they will attempt to put it to the ultimate test to see whether it can revive kidneys that no longer function.
Scientists Reverse Diabetes-Related Kidney Destruction, Medical Xpress, December 28, 2015