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Small Reduction in Food Intake May Be Enough to Slow Polycystic Kidney Disease

No approved therapies for autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease in the U.S.

Bethesda, Md. (January 28, 2016)—A small reduction in food intake—less than required to cause weight loss—dramatically slowed the development of a common genetic disorder called autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) in mice, a new study in American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology reports.

ADPKD affects approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. About half of these individuals will go on to kidney failure, also known as end-stage kidney disease, after which they will require life-long dialysis or a kidney transplant. There are no approved treatments for ADPKD in the U.S. Several drug trials are underway, and a new drug called tolvaptan was approved in Japan, Europe and Canada. Tolvaptan use is controversial, however, because of its side effects, potential toxicity and extreme cost, says Thomas Weimbs, of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and lead investigator of the study. Having very low side effects is important because ADPKD is a slow, progressive, chronic disease, and therapy would continue for years or decades, according to Weimbs.

Treatment through food reduction “would be an ideal therapy because it would be expected to be free of side effects and extremely cost-effective,” Weimbs says. In addition to the new UCSB findings, researchers at the Mayo Clinic also found that reduced food intake led to improved outcomes in mice with ADPKD. “The fact that two laboratories independently came to the same conclusions using different models and methods is a very powerful argument that dietary restriction may also be effective in patients,” Weimbs explains.

Before moving to clinical trials, the next step is to understand why reduced food intake was so effective. “We do not know whether this is due to caloric restriction or due to restriction of a particular nutrient group, such carbohydrates, lipids or protein. The next step would be to identify, in mouse studies, the most effective dietary modification. Once we have this information, a clinical trial would be warranted,” Weimbs says.

The article “A mild reduction of food intake slows disease progression in an orthologous mouse model of polycystic kidney disease” is published ahead-of-print in the American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology. For more details on the study, view the full release from UCSB.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact the APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



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