(RxWiki News) While kidney transplants can save lives, not every transplanted organ survives the test of time. Now, researchers have found a new sign that may help predict which donated kidneys will survive for the long haul.
A single difference in the genetic makeup of kidney donors may be linked to a higher risk of organ failure of transplanted kidneys, according to a recent study.
"Consider becoming an organ donor."
Richard Borrows, MB, of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham in the UK, and colleagues set out to see how the genes of kidney donors might affect the health of transplanted kidneys.
After getting a kidney transplant, patients must take immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of their life to prevent their body from rejecting the new organ. Unfortunately, these drugs can lead to kidney damage. In other words, the same drugs used to prevent kidney rejection can also seriously harm the kidneys.
Past studies have suggested that the degree to which certain proteins pump these drugs out of the kidneys may have an effect on how toxic these drugs are to the kidneys.
Dr. Borrows and colleagues wanted to find out if the genes associated with these protein pumps played a role in the health of donated kidneys.
They found that one specific gene variant was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of transplanted kidney failure.
The variant was found within the multi-drug resistance 1 (MDR-1) gene - one of the genes involved in pumping drugs out of the kidney cells.
For the first part of their study, Dr. Borrows and his fellow researchers looked at how genetic variants in donors and recipients were related to kidney outcomes in 811 transplant recipients. The researchers were able to back up their findings in another 3,660 donors, which makes their study the largest of its kind.
According to Dr. Borrows, the study of donor genes - rather than recipient genes - is fairly uncommon. As such, more research is needed.
"While the results of the current study may help determine which transplanted kidneys will last, one genetic variant probably does not do much on its own", said Dr. Borrows.
"However, when combined with other variants, it may play a much larger role in the survival of a transplant," he said.
The study was published October 11 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.