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Researchers find novel genes associated with diabetic kidney disease

Over the last few years, our understanding of diabetic kidney disease (DKD) has rapidly developed. However, there is still little known about the underlying genetic factors contributing to this disease. As a result, there is an urgent need for better diagnostic tools, predictive markers and treatment options for DKD patients. Now, a team of researchers have performed a GWAS meta-analysis and gene-level analysis to discover genes associated with DKD. These findings hold promise for the development of novel treatments and quicker diagnostic tools which will benefit patients with DKD.

What is Diabetic Kidney Disease?

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease. It accounts for 44% of new cases each year. Environmental factors, such as blood glucose level, smoking and BMI, are all risk factors for the development of DKD. In addition, family history of kidney failure and several underlying genetic factors are also known to increase the chances of developing DKD.

Finding Genetic Associations

The contribution of genetics to DKD is currently poorly understood. In a recent study, published in medRxiv, a team of researchers performed a GWAS meta-analysis using ten different phenotypic definitions of DKD. The study included nearly 27,000 individuals with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. This data was integrated with various kidney omics datasets to detect genetic risk factors for DKD.

What Genes Were Found?

The meta-analysis identified a variant in the TENM2 gene, which was associated with both chronic kidney disease (CKD) and DKD phenotypes. This gene has previously been reported to be among the strongest predictors of type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the gene-level analysis identified ten novel genes associated with DKD, including COL20A1, DCLK1, EIF4E, PTPRN-RESP18, GPR158, INIP-SNX30, LSM14A, and MFF.


This study represents the largest GWAS meta-analysis to date on DKD. Both the GWAS meta-analysis and gene-level analysis have identified several novel genes which are associated with the development of DKD. Overall, these results further our understanding of the genetic factors of DKD and create developmental opportunities for novel drug treatments.

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More on these topics

Diabetes / GWAS / Kidney Disease