Researchers at the University of Houston have been investigating lupus nephritis and discovered that there are race-specific urinary biomarkers. Hugh Roy and his team have found that there are specific proteins in the urine that distinguish between active and inactive disease in African American patients. As studies typically provide results that span all ethnicities or just one, this team aims to create a study that will evaluate the biomarkers for each ethnicity.
About Lupus Nephritis
Lupus nephritis is a complication from lupus that causes kidney inflammation. Antibodies attack the part of the kidneys that filter out waste, causing proteinuria, inflammation, hematuria, high blood pressure, and kidney failure in extreme cases. Females and those of African and Asian descent are at a higher risk of developing lupus.
Symptoms specific to lupus nephritis include pain and swelling in the joints, dark and foamy urine, edema, high blood pressure, muscle pain, fever, and rash. The cause is unknown, although medical professionals suspect that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Various lab tests, including urine tests, blood tests, and a kidney biopsy, are used to diagnose this condition. Treatment aims to decrease inflammation, reduce high blood pressure, and suppress the immune system.
About the Biomarkers
The research team discovered that PF-4, ALCAM, VCAM-1, and properdin distinguished active lupus nephritis from the inactive version of the disease in African American patients. This information is being used to create therapy that can block the ALCAM protein, as it is a disease driver.
Roy’s team discovered this through the use of an aptamer-based screen, which has the ability to assess over 1,1000 proteins. 375 people were screened, some with inactive lupus, others with active disease, and some who were healthy.
A longitudinal study is being planned to observe the various disease biomarkers across different ethnicities. The patients involved will be tracked for years in order to create a method of predicting disease flare-ups before they actually happen.
The information discovered by this research team will be very helpful in the diagnosis and treatment of lupus nephritis of various ethnicities.
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