UAB: smoking progresses kidney disease in diabetics

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – New research done by the University of Alabama at Birmingham says that cigarette smoking may worsen kidney disease in diabetics.

The study, published in the August issue of the American Journal of Renal Physiology, is the first research to link a compound in cigarette smoke to the progression of kidney disease.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, diabetes is the single leading cause of kidney failure in the U.S. 44% of people who experience kidney failure are diabetics.

The study exposed diabetic mice to nicotine and compared their kidney function to diabetic mice that were not exposed to nicotine. The mice that were exposed to nicotine had levels of a compound called cotinine in their blood. Cotinine is produced metabolically from nicotine and humans who smoke will show it in their blood as well.

Researchers found that mice with comparable cotinine livels also had more scarring of the kidneys and produced more proteinuria, another marker of kidney damage.

"Not having changes in blood pressure is a significant finding because it suggests the effects of nicotine on renal injury are not explained away by changes in systemic blood pressure," said Dr. Edgar Jaimes, an associate professor in the UAB Division of Nephrology. "Even though this is an animal study and was not done in humans, there are enough similarities between the animal model we used and humans to show that nicotine is an important link between smoking and the progression of diabetic kidney disease."

Jaimes says much work is needed to discover why nicotine affects diabetic kidney disease and to see if other parts of cigarette smoking are causing renal injury.

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