High blood pressure drug offers potential treatment for common kidney disease
A research team from the University of Edinburgh found that patients with AKI had increased blood levels of endothelin – a protein that triggers inflammation and causes blood vessels to constrict. Endothelin levels remain high long after kidney function has recovered.
After finding a similar increase in endothelin in mice with AKI, the experts treated the animals with drugs that block the endothelin system. The drugs – commonly used to treat angina and high blood pressure – work by stopping endothelin production or turning off endothelin receptors in cells.
The mice were followed for a period of four weeks after AKI. Those treated with endothelin-blocking drugs had lower blood pressure, less inflammation, and less scarring in the kidneys.
Drug therapy for acute kidney injury
Their blood vessels dilated more and their kidney function improved compared to untreated mice.
The study was published in Science Translation Medicine. It is funded by the Medical Research Council and the British Heart Foundation.
Dr Bean Dhaun, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Consultant Emeritus Nephrology at the University of Edinburgh’s Center for Cardiovascular Science, said: “AKI is a potentially harmful condition, particularly in older adults. and even with recovery, it can have long-term effects on a person’s health. . Our research shows that blocking the endothelin system prevents long-term damage of AKI in mice. With this drug already available for human use, I hope that we can move quickly to see if the same beneficial effects are seen in our patients.”
Professor James Leiper, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Decreased kidney function as a result of acute kidney injury can also increase the chance of developing and dying from heart disease and a person’s return, so it’s important that we find ways to minimize this.
“While further studies are needed to prove whether this treatment is safe and effective for patients, this initial study is an encouraging first step.”