KIDNEY disease – a long term condition which is associated with getting older – occurs when the organs don’t work as well as they should.
Experts have discovered an enzyme called klothos circulates in the blood and helps the kidney function properly but as levels drop the kidneys begin to fail.
Previous studies have found those who need dialysis have very low levels of the gene.
The study which is the first to follow declining klotho and kidney function over a long time could lead to new drugs to prevent and treat kidney disease.
It is generally only picked up in blood or urine tests carried out for another reason.
Experts estimate three million Britons have the incurable disease.
Although the exact mechanism of action remains to be identified, the protein has been shown to influence multiple cellular and endocrine pathways.
Kidney disease: Experts found a strong association between an enzyme and kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease appears to be a condition of soluble klotho deficiency.
Dr David Drew at Tufts Medical Centre in Boston said there was ‘evidence which suggests that low klotho may be a risk factor for the development of kidney disease, rather than simply a marker of kidney disease’.
He used the records of 2,496 healthy elderly participants in the Health Ageing and Body Composition study.
Their levels of soluble serum klotho were measured along with kidney function over ten years of follow up.
“Despite known associations between low soluble klotho levels and conditions that promote kidney damage, such as oxidative stress and fibrosis, little information exists regarding the longitudinal association between soluble klotho levels and change in kidney function.
“We found a strong association between low soluble klotho and decline in kidney function, independent of many known risk factors for kidney function decline.
Kidney disease breakthrough: Experts said Kiotho could be an important therapeutic target
“This also raises the possibility that klotho could be an important therapeutic target for future clinical trials.”
The study was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.