Protein Levels Can Help Detect Future Kidney Dysfunction

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Our kidneys become less effective as we age. However, scientists now say that analyzing proteins in the vital organ can help map out the age-related processes.

In a recent study, researchers observed changes in the protein and gene transcription where a part f DNA is copied into RNA to comprehend age-related kidney diseases better.

Few existing studies

Although there are many studies on the physiological causes of kidney diseases, there is little information on the molecular processes that cause its dysfunction. The new study, published in the eLife journal, was led by Yuka Takemon, a doctoral student at the University of British Colombia. It was aimed at bringing new light into the treatment of age-related kidney diseases.

Existing studies on the kidneys’ physiological transitions measured messenger RNA (mRNA). This study, on the other hand, concentrated on genetic transcription and protein levels. To achieve this, the researchers monitored age-related kidney changes in 600 mice with diverse genetics. They further checked the changes in mRNA and kidney proteins in around a third of the mice.

Dysfunctional organelle

They found dependencies in mRNA from the mice to confirm existing studies, suggesting that they could have generated more immune cells, effectively increasing kidney inflammation. They also found changes in proteins and a decreased function in the mitochondria, an organelle that provides energy for cells.  

The researchers found that not all protein changes corresponded with mRNA changes, which gave the impression that the kidneys produce more minor proteins as they age. Another hypothesis would be that the proteins are broken down more swiftly. If the subsequent studies confirm one of these theories, it could mean that age-related kidney dysfunction treatment involving slowing down protein breakdown is advantageous.

Importance of protein changes in kidney illnesses

This study also shows that mRNA measurements alone don’t adequately depict the kidney’s molecular processes initiated by age. Studying protein level changes is also crucial to getting new approaches in predicting and treating age-related kidney illnesses.

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