High Levels of a Particular Protein May Predict Kidney Disease

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Levels of a protein in the blood were usually used to determine whether there is heart damage, but now it seems that levels of a specific protein might be an indicator of kidney disease as well, as a recent study suggests.

More than 30% of Americans are struggling with hypertension, as data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, and high blood pressure increases the risk of developing kidney disease.

As people are not regularly screened for kidney disease and diagnosing this illness in an early stage could mean better and more efficient treatment, using blood tests that show levels of protein to see if there is the potential for kidney disease could be a great way to do this in a timely manner and reduce the complications which come with a late diagnosis.

Diagnosing kidney disease as soon as it starts developing, or predicting that there is an increased risk for its development allows doctors to act early and provide treatment to the patients. This was concluded by Dr. LaTonya Hickson, a Nephrology and Hypertension physician at Mayo Clinic, who led the study conducted in Rochester, Minnesota, in collaboration with the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

According to Hickson, high levels of cTnT (cardiac troponin) in the blood can indicate that a patient needs intervention.


This is a big breakthrough, as many people have died because they were diagnosed too late. Now, when it is known that having an elevated level of this protein is a warning of kidney disease waiting to develop, doctors can make an early intervention based on this accurate prediction. This one marker is enough to show that there is an increased risk of developing kidney disease, and once elevated levels of cTnT are found in the blood test results, immediate reaction is necessary and thanks to the results of this study- a timely reaction is possible.

When a disease is detected before it is fully manifested, it is much easier to treat it and improve the patients’ quality (as well as length) of life, according to Hickson.

Elevated levels of cTnT are a strong indicator that treatment is necessary, regardless of the patients’ race. This is important because earlier studies showed that kidney disease and hypertension occur more often in African-Americans who, because of these incidences, have a 3-8 years shorter life span than their white counterparts.

The researchers from Mayo Clinic conducted their study using blood samples from people of all races who participated in a prior study conducted between 1996 and 2000, and found that those with high levels of cTnT had a 47 percent death incidence while those with normal levels had incidence of death totaling 7.3 percent. Dr. Hickson also said that ten years after the first testing, 27 percent of the people with elevated cTnT levels had kidney disease (end stage), while the incidence of this illness in those with normal levels of this protein was 1.3 percent.

Although the results of the study seem very accurate and the claim that high levels of cTnT could be a strong indicator of the risk for kidney disease, the researchers say that further research needs to be conducted in order to determine whether cTnT levels could be used as a measure for end-stage kidney disease, and also whether all patients struggling with hypertension should be screened for kidney disease (or the risk for it).

However, the results of the research conducted so far are enough to give the doctors a means to predict the risks of future conditions of their patients, which is certainly not irrelevant.