Rong Ma, PhD, Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology, is searching for the reason that glomerular cells become impaired. Is it a result of Types I and II diabetes?
"When glomerular cells relax, filtration increases," explained Ma. "When the cells contract, filtration decreases. So what causes the impairment of the cell contraction in diabetes? We suspect it is a dysfunction of the ion channel TRPC6 (Transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily C, member 6). With hyperglycemia --- high level of blood sugar --- the number of TRPC6 channels is reduced, which decreases cell contraction and increases filtration in the kidneys in diabetes."
Eventually, a drug or molecular tool that could regulate expression level of TRPC6 could be administered, and the ravaging effects of diabetes on the kidneys could be reduced.
"We are still in the early stages of determining how to reduce the number of functional channels and increase kidney filtration, "Ma said. "But the results of our research could help give diabetes patients more effective treatment and reduce the negative effects of diabetes on the kidneys."
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