Protein in Urine Contributes to Kidney Failure in African Americans

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WASHINGTON— A new study has found that a condition that occurs when the kidneys are damaged and spill protein into the urine contributes to the increased risk of kidney failure in African Americans, according to a study published online Aug. 25 in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).

The study, conducted by William McClellan, MD, of Emory University and his colleagues, analyzed information from 27,911 individuals (40.5 percent of whom were African Americans). Among the major findings:

  • After an average follow-up of 3.6 years, 133 individuals developed kidney failure.
  • There were 96 cases of kidney failure among African Americans and 37 among whites.
  • Kidney failure was most common in individuals who excreted large amounts of protein in their urine.
  • African Americans were more likely to excrete large amounts of protein in their urine than whites.

The investigators speculated that several factors may explain why African Americans tend to excrete more protein in their urine. These could include blood pressure and other heart-related factors, obesity, smoking, vitamin D levels, genetic differences, income, and birth weight. These factors may act at different times during an individual's life to affect kidney health.

"Our large nationwide study brings attention to higher levels of urinary protein excretion as important contributors to the increased incidence of kidney failure experienced by blacks," said McClellan. Treating urinary protein excretion may help reduce racial disparities related to kidney failure as well as reduce the rate of progression to kidney failure for all individuals.

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