Researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University are studying whether inhibiting an enzyme that reduces levels of a protective metabolite could halt the progression of diabetic nephropathy, or kidney disease resulting from diabetes.
With a four year, $308,000 grant from the American Heart Association, Dr. Ahmed Elmarakby, Assistant Professor of Oral Biology in the College of Dental Medicine and Pharmacology and Toxicology in the Medical College of Georgia, will study how epoxyeicosatrienoic acids, or EETs, protect the kidneys.
EETs are metabolites that guard against inflammation and high blood pressure, very useful assets considering that oxidative stress and inflammatory cytokines play a role in diabetic nephropathy.
Elmarakby hypothesizes that EETs protect kidneys by inhibiting nuclear factor kappa B from signaling inflammation and by activating hemeoxygenase-1 to counteract oxidative damage.
But while EETs are working hard to protect the kidneys, an enzyme, soluble epoxide hydrolase, causes EETs to rapidly degrade in the body. Elmarakby believes drugs that inhibit the enzyme could halt the damage, and he is testing the theory on diabetic animals.
"Diabetic nephropathy is a leading cause of end-stage renal disease, for which the only treatment now is dialysis and kidney transplant," Elmarakby said. "We hope the inhibitors could potentially be used to halt the progression of renal injury during diabetes."
About 170 million people worldwide have diabetes, and that number is expected to double within the next 25 years. Diabetic nephropathy affects about 35 percent of diabetic patients.