UoH study uncovers links between obesity and kidney disease

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: Scientists from the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have uncovered the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying obesity-related proteinuria, a condition characterized by the presence of excess protein in urine, which can lead to kidney ailments.

The research, led by Dr. Anil Kumar Pasupulati from the Department of Biochemistry at UoH and Dr. G Bhanuprakash Reddy, a Scientist G with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), focused on the pathobiology of kidney diseases induced by obesity. The study utilized Wistar NIN-Obese rat models and mice fed a high-fat diet (40%).

Their findings revealed that both obesity models exhibited severe proteinuria, with elevated levels of protein in the urine. Detailed investigations showed that podocytes—vital cells in the nephron, the functional unit of the kidney—suffered significant damage, including cellular distortions.

The research highlighted an upregulation of WT1 (Wilms Tumor 1) transcription factor in podocytes from obese rats and high-fat-fed mice. WT1 is crucial for kidney development during embryonic stages and is typically expressed minimally in adults, confined only to podocytes.

Interestingly, the scientists observed that WT1 was reactivated in the obese rodent models, which correlated with increased mobility of normally static podocytes. This reactivation of the embryologically active transcription factor WT1 is believed to be the underlying cause of podocyte damage and subsequent proteinuria in the obese rodent models.

This groundbreaking study provides new insights into the molecular basis of obesity-related kidney ailments and could pave the way for developing targeted therapies to treat or prevent such conditions.

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