Medical College researcher to study immune cell role in hypertension and kidney disease

June 5, 2013

The Medical College of Wisconsin received a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to fund an investigation of the role of immune cells in the development of hypertension and kidney disease.

David L. Mattson, Ph.D., professor of physiology, is the principal investigator for the grant.

Approximately one-third of adult Americans have hypertension, or high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart and kidney disease. High blood pressure makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. The heart works harder to compensate, which can cause injury to blood vessels throughout the body, including those within the kidney. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, high blood pressure causes 25,000 new cases of kidney failure annually in the United States.

Dr. Mattson’s study is following up on data suggesting that infiltration of immune cells into the kidney contributes to the development of high blood pressure and kidney disease. It is not known, however, which specific immune cell types play a role and the mechanisms that lead to disease. This research will examine a gene, CD247, which may be involved in the infiltration and activation of immune cells within the kidney. Dr. Mattson will also look at the substances that immune cells release into the kidney to understand how they may contribute to high blood pressure and damage in the kidney.

This project will advance knowledge and may help create new therapies for patients with hypertension and kidney disease.

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