Researchers from Australia’s Monash University have made an important discovery about the role of leukocytes, or white blood cells, in kidney inflammation. Leukocytes are immune system cells found throughout the body, where they defend against infectious disease; a high leukocyte count can be a marker of inflammation and disease. Prior to this study, the medical and scientific community believed that leukocytes were only present in diseased kidneys. Using the latest microscopic technology, the Monash researchers found that leukocytes circulate in both healthy and impaired kidneys. According to lead researcher Associate Professor Michael Hickey, when disease is present, leukocytes “…linger in the kidney during the course of their normal journey, become agitated and cause inflammation and kidney damage.”
Armed with this new information about the disease process, scientists are one step closer to identifying specific drug targets that could help patients suffering from glomerulonephritis and other inflammatory kidney maladies.
Kidney Failure Under the Microscope, Monash University, December 17, 2012