In a study published today in Nature Medicine, researchers from Monash University tracked the movements of white blood cells, or leukocytes, leading to a new understanding of their behaviour in both healthy and diseased kidneys.
Leukocytes play important protective roles in the body's immune system, but in some cases they cause damaging inflammation. Glomerulonephritis is an inflammatory disease of the kidney that can lead to the need for transplantation or regular dialysis. More than 20 per cent of end-stage renal failure cases result from glomerulonephritis.
Lead researcher, Associate Professor Michael Hickey of the University's Centre for Inflammatory Diseases in the Department of Medicine said the team used advanced microscopy techniques to visualise the movements of leukocytes through the kidney.
"In order to manipulate a system, you must understand it. Now, we have a really clear understanding of the disease process and the molecules involved in the key steps," Associate Professor Hickey said.
"Contrary to conventional medical and scientific opinion, we found that leukocytes are constantly circulating through and patrolling the blood vessels within healthy kidneys. It was previously believed that they only arrived in the kidney during the development of disease. That's not the case. However, during disease they linger in the kidney during the course of their normal journey, become agitated and cause inflammation and kidney damage."
End-stage renal failure leads to significant health and personal impacts, including ongoing visits to a dialysis unit several times a week, or a significant wait for a donor.
Renal Physician and co-investigator Professor Richard Kitching said therapies to effectively target glomerulonephritis were needed before end-stage was reached.
"The treatments we have can be fairly effective, but they are non-specific and they often have unacceptable side effects," Professor Kitching said.
"Currently, we have to suppress the immune system to combat the inflammation and this immunosuppression leaves the body more prone to infections. Additionally, some of the drugs have metabolic side effects, such as weight gain and bone thinning.
"Now we have a better understanding of how the disease develops, we can identify targets for more specific drugs, with fewer side-effects."
The Australia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry reported that 19,000 Australians had end-stage kidney failure at the end of 2010.
The research was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
Monash Media | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.monash.edu
More articles from Health and Medicine:
Changing cancer's environment to halt its spread
22.05.2013 | Boston Children's Hospital
Biodegradable stent proves non-inferior to drug-eluting stent
22.05.2013 | European Society of Cardiology
A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.
The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers.
Droplets in this toroidal shape made ...
Frauhofer FEP will present a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high-barriers and functional films for flexible displays at the SID DisplayWeek 2013 in Vancouver – the International showcase for the Display Industry.
Displays that are flexible and paper thin at the same time?! What might still seem like science fiction will be a major topic at the SID Display Week 2013 that currently takes place in Vancouver in Canada.
High manufacturing cost and a short lifetime are still a major obstacle on ...
University of Würzburg physicists have succeeded in creating a new type of laser.
Its operation principle is completely different from conventional devices, which opens up the possibility of a significantly reduced energy input requirement. The researchers report their work in the current issue of Nature.
It also emits light the waves of which are in phase with one another: the polariton laser, developed ...
Innsbruck physicists led by Rainer Blatt and Peter Zoller experimentally gained a deep insight into the nature of quantum mechanical phase transitions.
They are the first scientists that simulated the competition between two rival dynamical processes at a novel type of transition between two quantum mechanical orders. They have published the results of their work in the journal Nature Physics.
“When water boils, its molecules are released as vapor. We call this ...
Researchers have shown that, by using global positioning systems (GPS) to measure ground deformation caused by a large underwater earthquake, they can provide accurate warning of the resulting tsunami in just a few minutes after the earthquake onset.
For the devastating Japan 2011 event, the team reveals that the analysis of the GPS data and issue of a detailed tsunami alert would have taken no more than three minutes. The results are published on 17 May in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, an open access journal of ...
22.05.2013 | Life Sciences
22.05.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
22.05.2013 | Earth Sciences
17.05.2013 | Event News
15.05.2013 | Event News
08.05.2013 | Event News