June 9, 2005
Discovery May Prevent Life-threatening Wasting Disease in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital have uncovered a unique therapeutic strategy to combat cachexia -- severe malnutrition and physical wasting away -- in children and adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The study is published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Although the exact cause of cachexia -- a common life-threatening complication of CKD, cancer, AIDS and heart failure patients -- is unknown, Doernbecher researchers found elevated levels of leptin, a hormone that is produced by fat cells and plays a role in weight regulation, may be the cause. Leptin signals through the hypothalamic melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4-R) pathway in the brain, and blocking this pathway may be an important avenue for treatment, they report. The study was conducted in mice.
In an accompanying editorial commentary, William Mitch, M.D., past president of the American Society of Nephrology and Edward Randall Distinguished Chairman in Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, wrote that this study "provides a quantum increase in our understanding of CKD-associated anorexia."
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