Singapore and Chinese scientists have identified new susceptibility genes for a specific kidney disease and found risk variants that could influence the clinical symptoms of patients.
Their discovery is related to the disease immunoglobulin A nephropathy, or IgAN in short, which is the most common cause of kidney failure among Asian populations. IgAN is prevalent among Asians but less common in Caucasians and very rare among individuals of African ancestry.
It is not clear what causes IgAN but both genetic and environmental factors likely contribute to its development.
In order to identifiy the susceptibility genes, Dr Liu Jianjun at A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and nephrologist Dr Yu Xueqing at the 1st Affiliated Hospital of the Sun Yat-Sen University carried out a large genome-wide association study of IgAN in Chinese Han population.
The newly discovered susceptibility genes implicate that they are related to innate immunity and inflammation, suggesting an important role in the development of the disease.
Dr Liu said: "The discovery of the new disease susceptibility loci is a major breakthrough of IgAN research. It is interesting to see that some genetic variants can influence both susceptibility and clinical presentation of the disease."
Dr Yu added: "These findings offer us opportunities to identify important biological pathways involved in IgAN development and further explore novel approaches to intervene and thus prevent affected patients from developing severe kidney damage."
Their discovery was reported in the advance online issue of Nature Genetics on Dec 25.