Sex and the Kidneys

Chromosome 2q31.1 Associates with ESRD in Women with Type 1 Diabetes. By Niina Sandholm and colleagues. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2013;24:1537-1543

What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

In people without diabetes, men are more likely to develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD)—a serious and potentially fatal kidney condition that may require dialysis or a transplant to treat—than women. However, some evidence suggests that women with type 1 diabetes lose that protection from ESRD. People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing kidney disease overall, but there also seems to be a genetic component as diabetic kidney disease tends to run in families.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

The researchers wanted to identify genes that play different roles in men and women with type 1 diabetes to help explain why women with type 1 diabetes lose protection against ESRD.

Who was studied?

The study included 3,652 people with type 1 diabetes.

How was the study done?

The researchers scanned through the genomes of participants and looked for genes that increased the risk for ESRD. They analyzed the data from men and women separately.

What did the researchers find?

One gene was associated with an increased risk of ESRD in women but not in men. The researchers found that this gene may be affected by estrogen levels, suggesting a possible explanation for why it is linked to kidney disease in women but not in men.

What were the limitations of the study?

This study can't prove that this gene is the cause of the increased risk of kidney disease in women with type 1 diabetes.

What are the implications of the study?

Women with type 1 diabetes may benefit from different strategies than men for preventing and treating kidney disease.

  • Last Reviewed: January 15, 2014
  • Last Edited: February 14, 2014

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