Surprise discovery reverses kidney damage in diabetic mice

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Dr. Ganesan Ramesh, Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University

A potential treatment could possibly prevent and reverse kidney damage for those suffering from diabetes. Researchers report they have been able to prevent and reverse kidney damage in diabetic mice. The finding could lead to new drug development.

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In an interesting study researchers report they discovered they could infuse small amounts of an inflammatory molecule thought to cause kidney disease. Rather than causing kidney damage as believed, the scientists found small doses of the cytokine IL-17A actually helped protect the kidneys and even reversed damage in mice with diabetes.

Therapy reverses advances diabetic kidney disease

When the researchers gave mice small doses of cytokine IL-17A infusion they found it worked best for reversing advanced stages of diabetic kidney disease (diabetic nephropathy) in type 1 and type 2 diabetic mice..

Dr. Ganesan Ramesh, kidney pathologist at the Vascular Biology Center at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.explained in a media release that IL-17A does "very well" at suppressing kidney damage associated with diabetes.

The discovery was accidental.

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When researchers deleted the IL-17 gene in mice they noted increased kidney damage. Next they looked at patients with diabetic nephropathy, discovering IL-17 levels were reduced in their blood and urine.

The role of IL-17 became more apparent in follow up studies, much to the researcher's surprise. Small infusions of IL17A, administered every 48 hours over a period of several weeks did more than reverse kidney damage. The study authors also noted the compound reduced fat in the blood that can contribute to kidney damage and heart disease. Both are known risks for patients with diabetes.

What next?

There is no medication that can increase IL-17A levels. The researchers note there may be opportunity for developing such a drug.

"If you can recover function from the dead kidney, you could save millions of people from a lifetime of dialysis," Ramesh said.

Image credit:
Augusta University Senior Photographer Phil Jones

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