FRIDAY, Aug. 4, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- New findings from research in mice may help scientists better understand how healthy kidneys keep blood proteins out of urine. Leakage of these blood proteins into urine is a symptom that often proceeds kidney failure.
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis concluded that a kidney structure called the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) normally plays an important role in keeping blood proteins out of the urine. The findings were published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The study used genetically-modified mice that lacked a gene for laminin beta 2, a protein that's part of the GBM. The mice were then given ferritin, a protein that's used as an imaging agent.
The researchers used an electron microscope to take pictures of the ferritin and found it slipped more readily through the GBM in the genetically modified mice than it did in normal mice.
The findings may help doctors better understand nephrotic syndrome, a condition that includes blood proteins in the urine. Nephrotic syndrome can be triggered by different genetic and environmental factors and leads to kidney failure.
"All the treatments we now use for nephrotic syndrome are either non-specific, meaning that we can't say for sure that they directly address the problem, or they are toxic," study author Dr. George Jarad, a postdoctoral research scholar, said in a prepared statement.
"The first step to developing a specific treatment is to understand exactly what's happening. We have to know the details of the process before we can devise a remedy," he said.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about nephrotic syndrome.