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Kidney Disease Progression Studied

Oct. 6, 2010

The Medical College of Wisconsin received a five-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to investigate how cellular response to a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha affects the progression of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). Xiaogang Li, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatric nephrology at the Medical College and researcher at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, is principal investigator for the grant.

A protein made by blood cells in response to infection, TNF-alpha has been found to promote cyst formation in kidneys. Dr. Li is studying how this protein may also contribute to slow the progression of ADPKD, a disease that is characterized by multiple cysts on the kidneys. As an inherited disease, ADPKD affects about one in every 1,000 Americans. Symptoms include abdominal pain or tenderness, blood in urine, excessive urination at night, drowsiness and high blood pressure.

By studying the effect of the TNF-alpha signaling pathway on ADPKD, Dr. Li hopes to establish a foundation for developing effective treatments and therapies to slow the disease’s progression.

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