Study Finds Having Family Member with Chronic Kidney Disease Increases Risk

Study Finds Having Family Member with Chronic Kidney Disease Increases Risk


A new study suggests that family history of kidney disease can significantly increase one’s risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD).

This large population-based family study recently published in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases showed that participants with an affected first-degree relative have a risk threefold higher than those in the general population. The increased risk was also found to be independent of body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, history of cardiovascular disease, and smoking status.

The study’s author, Dr. Jia Zhang, and his colleagues used data from the Lifelines Cohort Study, allowing his team to examine three generations of family members, reflecting a total sample of 155,911 individuals with eGFR (estimated glomerular filtration rate) information. The researchers focused their efforts on later stages of CKD, like kidney failure or end stage renal disease (ESRD), as data for early-stage CKD is currently inadequate.

The results of the study provide valuable insight into the potential role genetic factors play in kidney disease. The study concludes that much of the familial clusters of kidney disease may be attributed to genetic factors and that the study’s data will help “inform future work on risk stratification based on family history and provide a step forward in disentangling genetic and environmental risk factors in CKD.”

Despite these potential genetic links in kidney disease, nephrology has moved slower in terms of using genomic data to deliver precision medicine due to a lack of large-scale, renal-focused genomic research and clinical data.

“We've long recognized that a number of kidney diseases are, in fact, inherited in family members, and that there are genetic determinants for that,” says Franklin W. Maddux, MD, Global Chief Medical Officer of Fresenius Medical Care in an episode of our Field Notes podcast. “More and more, we're seeing that it's a combination of mechanisms of injury that actually lead to kidney failure.”

Fresenius Medical Care’s Frenova Renal Research division recently launched an effort to better understand those potential genetic drivers of kidney disease. Frenova has started to enroll patients with the goal of creating the largest renal-focused genomic registry in the world. The initiative will gather genetic sequencing data from chronic kidney disease patients worldwide, aiming to have biosamples from 100,000 to 200,000 patients in the next five to six years.

“I think this will have a long-term benefit to the field, and it's a long-term benefit that ultimately I think will be quite helpful for patients,” says Dr. Maddux.

With this genomic registry, Frenova hopes to advance nephrology by producing much-needed research and data that aims to provide CKD patients with more personalized care.

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