New way to predict kidney injury with non-invasive markers

Credit: Unsplash+

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine have made strides in finding more accurate and less invasive markers for predicting, managing, and assessing acute kidney injury (AKI).

AKI is characterized by severe inflammation and can lead to a sudden loss of kidney function. Clinicians have long sought markers to detect AKI without resorting to invasive kidney biopsies.

The Study

The study examined 120,985 nuclei from kidney biopsy samples taken from 24 participants and was published in Science Translational Medicine.

AKI affects an estimated 15% to 20% of hospitalized patients, putting them at a higher risk of in-hospital death and chronic kidney disease that may require dialysis or a transplant.

Addressing a Lack of Non-Invasive Assessments

This research aimed to address the lack of noninvasive assessments of maladaptive proximal tubule (PT) repair, a process marked by excessive inflammation in response to AKI. Understanding this process can lead to noninvasive markers in blood or urine that better predict and manage AKI.

Why This Matters

Patients with AKI are often critically ill and in the ICU, making kidney biopsies unsafe. Finding markers in blood or urine can help inform doctors about kidney healing without invasive procedures.


The study used a single-nucleus ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequencing approach, profiling 120,985 nuclei from kidney biopsy samples.

Researchers found that patients with AKI had maladaptive PT cells present and identified six different protein markers, including increased TGFB2, COL23A1, and NLGN4X, and decreased PLG, ENPP6, and PROC.


These findings could lead to a “liquid biopsy” equivalent—a panel of proteins that help with therapeutic development and AKI management when biopsies are not possible. This research brings us closer to treating AKI effectively.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about Scientists find important cause of kidney disease and findings of Cruciferous vegetables may reverse kidney damage in diabetics.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent recurrence of kidney stones, and common painkillers may harm heart, kidneys and more.

The research findings can be found in Science Translational Medicine.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.