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23rd September 2022

High salt diet accelerates kidney disease

Professor Sharad Kumar kidney disease scaled

High salt consumption is common in a modern diet but how it influences chronic kidney disease has been poorly understood. Until now!

A new laboratory study from the Centre for Cancer Biology has found a high salt diet exacerbates kidney disease, particularly in cases where the protein known as NEDD4-2 is lacking.

Lead researchers Professor Sharad Kumar and Dr Jantina Manning said while some kidney diseases are associated with specific genetic mutations, a clear link between environmental factors (dietary salt) to chronic kidney disease has now been established.

“We have found that a high salt diet exacerbates kidney disease where there is a deficiency in the NEDD4-2 protein,’’ Prof Kumar and Dr Manning said.

“While a normal salt diet shows some evidence of kidney damage, two weeks of a high salt diet severely affected the architecture of the kidney, and blood and urine samples showed decreased kidney function in a laboratory model system.

“In fact, left on a high salt diet for longer than this results in end stage renal failure.”

The team said results from this project will inform clinicians and patients of the risks of high salt consumption and the benefit of a low salt diet in the management and treatment of kidney disease. It also identifies NEDD4-2 as a possible new biomarker in disease detection and prognosis.

“We expect that this work may have health related and societal impact, as it highlights the adverse effects of high dietary salt intake on kidney disease,’’ they said.

The research team is actively investigating how to translate the findings to a clinical setting and
advice is also being sought from expert nephrologists on how to establish collaborations to pursue this.

“This research may be of significant interest to clinicians as NEDD4-2, already linked to blood pressure regulation, may be a useful biomarker for salt-sensitive kidney disease.’’

“This would involve investigating human patient sample for NEDD4-2 levels and relating this to disease progression.

“With Associate Professor Shilpanjali Jesudason (RAH), we have obtained ethics approval to study NEDD4-2 levels in human kidney biopsies and are in the process of analysing samples.’’

Kidney Transplant Diabetes Research Australia (KTDRA) has been proud to support this important study, thanks to our generous donors. The results have been shared through peer reviewed publications and presentations and are now available to other researchers and clinicians working on renal disease.