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Hyderabad researcher finds obesity-kidney ailment link after 9 years of research

HYDERABAD, MAY 19: In a breakthrough for the ages, researchers from the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the University of Hyderabad (UoH) have uncovered a correlation between obesity and kidney-related diseases. Led by Dr Anil Kumar Pasupulati, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at UoH, and Dr G Bhanuprakash Reddy, Scientist at NIN, the study found that obesity has an adverse impact on the kidney and can go on to completely damage the organ.
Dr Anil has spent over 9 years on this research, starting during his Ph.D days. His team studied various models, literature and data to establish the correlation between obesity and kidney health. Funded by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), their findings were recently published in the prestigious International Journal of Obesity, a Nature Press Journal.
Using the Wistar NIN-Obese rat model and a high-fat (40%) fed mice model, the researchers observed that crucial kidney cells called podocytes exhibited cellular distortions, indicating injury due to obesity, in obese rodent models. Additionally, both models displayed severe levels of proteinuria, further highlighting the detrimental effects of obesity on kidney health.
Of particular interest was the up-regulation of the WT1 (Wilms Tumor1) transcription factor in podocytes from obese rats and high-fat-fed mice. Normally associated with kidney development in embryos, WT1 expression is minimal in adults and confined to podocytes. However, in obese rodent models, the researchers observed a reactivation of WT1, coinciding with increased mobility of otherwise static podocytes.
Speaking to TNIE, Dr Anil stated, “During the research, we discovered that the WT1 protein was elevated in the obese mice, particularly those on a fat-rich diet, unlike the mice that were comparatively healthy and not exposed to a high-fat diet. We also observed cellular distortions in the podocytes within the nephrons of the kidneys in the obese mice. This suggests a significant correlation between WT1 levels, proteinuria and obesity, indicating that obesity can lead to kidney-related ailments in the long run.”
Analysing big data of patients with chronic kidney disease proved to be a formidable challenge due to the volume and time-consuming nature of the data. However, their analysis revealed elevated WT1 expression in podocytes and their precursors, providing compelling evidence that obesity contributes to kidney-related diseases. (Courtesy: TNIE)

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