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Could tiny bits of kidney cells in the urine be a potential warning sign of kidney disease?

February 2, 2017


Dr. Dylan Burger and his team have discovered that people with type 1 diabetes have more kidney microparticles in their urine than those without diabetes. These tiny pieces of cells released into the body by injured or dying cells have the potential to be an early warning sign of kidney disease. The study, published in Diabetologia, found that while healthy participants had little to no kidney microparticles in their urine, 30 percent of the 25 people with diabetes who were tested had higher levels. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease in Canada, but is hard to detect because people often have no symptoms until the advanced stages. Current screening for kidney disease involves testing for protein in the urine, but it only appears when the kidneys are quite damaged. Kidney microparticles may be in the urine even in the earliest stages of kidney disease because they are released under minor cell stress. This study sets the stage for further research into using these particles as early markers of kidney disease, which could help with prevention.

Authors: Lytvyn Y, Xiao F, Kennedy CR, Perkins BA, Reich HN, Scholey JW, Cherney DZ, Burger D

Funders: Canadian Diabetes Association, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

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