Scientists one step close the cause of chronic kidney disease

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A recent study has uncovered fresh insights into a protein called Indian Hedgehog (IHH), which is responsible for causing damage in kidneys and hearts.

Researchers believe that targeting this protein could lead to new treatment options for chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that affects a significant portion of the global population.

Understanding Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD is a term used to describe any form of kidney disease that persists for more than a few months. It can affect people of all ages, but it is more commonly observed in older individuals.

While CKD primarily damages the kidneys, it also increases the risk of accelerated cardiovascular disease and premature death.

The Role of Indian Hedgehog (IHH) Protein

In a study conducted on mice, scientists discovered that scarring in the kidneys and hearts was driven by a protein called Indian Hedgehog (IHH).

This protein is produced and released by a specific group of cells found in aged and injured kidneys. The team of researchers believes that further investigation is needed to determine if IHH can be targeted for therapies to treat CKD.

The Study Findings

The research team from the University of Edinburgh identified a subset of epithelial cells, which are responsible for making up body tissues, that produce IHH. These cells were only present in aged or injured mouse kidneys.

The study showed that these cells produced IHH in response to activation by a protein called TNF, which is known to drive inflammation.

When the actions of TNF or IHH were blocked in mouse models with kidney scarring, the researchers observed a reduction in scar production and better preservation of kidney function.

Additionally, increased levels of scarring in the heart returned to normal levels.

Implications for Human Patients

In humans, the study found that patients with CKD had significantly elevated levels of circulating IHH.

Patients with cardiovascular disease also exhibited higher levels of IHH compared to those without cardiac problems.

These findings suggest that targeting the TNF/IHH signaling pathway could potentially improve both kidney and heart fibrosis, which are leading causes of morbidity and mortality in CKD patients.


The study’s findings offer hope for developing new treatments to address progressive kidney scarring and cardiovascular problems associated with CKD.

By gaining a better understanding of the role of IHH as a major driver of multi-organ fibrosis, researchers aim to pave the way for improved therapies that can benefit patients with CKD.

The study highlights the potential of this work and the importance of continued research in developing better treatments for CKD patients.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies that Mediterranean diet could help protect kidney health, and DASH diet for high blood pressure can protect kidney health.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes, and results showing cruciferous vegetables may reduce kidney damage in diabetes.

The study was published in Science Translational Medicine.

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