Human Kidney Samples Reveal New Insight Into Diabetic Nephropathy

It is challenging to draw firm conclusions on mechanisms of disease from animal models and human tissue can be very difficult to obtain. Dr. Susztak and team were able to examine tissue taken from surgical samples and kidney biopsies in living donors with and without diabetic kidney disease. These samples were studied for differences in their structure and for changes to global patterns of gene expressions. The investigators identified several differences between the healthy tissue and nephropathy tissue in how the cells are functioning. Concepts can now be developed and further studies planned to help confirm whether any of these functional differences could lead to drug development targets. The data generated in this study is now available to the wider research community, expanding the potential for future novel drug development proposals.


Transcriptome analysis of human diabetic kidney disease. Woroniecka KI, Park AS, Mohtat D, Thomas DB, Pullman JM, Susztak K. Diabetes. 2011, 60(9):2354-69.

Ramifications for Individuals with Type 1 Diabetes:

Kidney disease is an important diabetes complication with a high risk of morbidity and mortality. Though care has been improved through better blood sugar control and anti-hypertensive drugs, many people with type 1 diabetes are still progressing to more severe stages of kidney disease, including end stage renal disease. Additional treatments are needed to slow this progression, and novel approaches to identify therapeutic targets, such as this research, are therefore a high priority for JDRF.

JDRF Involvement:

Katalin Susztak was a JDRF Career Development Awardee and this work formed part of her JDRF-funded project. She recently received the Young Investigator Award of the American Society of Nephrology for her work in diabetic nephropathy.