mouse kidney
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Our kidneys function less efficiently as we age, and this leads to diseases that affect that essential organ for the rest of our lives. Yet, analyzing proteins in our kidneys as we age, and the transcription of genes into those proteins would offer a clear idea of the age-related processes that occur in those vital organs.

In the study, "Proteomic and transcriptomic profiling reveal different aspects of aging in the kidney" published in the eLife journal, researchers analyzed gene transcription wherein a segment of DNA is copied into RNA, and changes in the protein to better understand the age-related changes in the kidney. This is intended to bring new approaches in treating age-related kidney illnesses.

Essential in Understanding Age-Related Kidney Dysfunction

While the physiological changes in the kidney functions have been identified for a long time, there is little information on the fundamental molecular processes that cause its functional decline, according to the study's first author Yuka Takemon, a doctoral student at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre of the University of British Columbia in Canada, in a Science Daily article.

Combination of Gene Transcription and Protein Levels

Previous research on the kidneys' physiological changes have studied gene transcription into proteins by measuring the messenger RNA (mRNA), but this study intended to get more insights through transcription of genes and also studying protein levels in the kidney.

mouse kidney
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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In their study, researchers checked age-related changes in kidney function in around 600 genetically diverse mice. They also gauged changes in the mRNA and proteins in the kidney samples from around one-third of the mice.

mRNA, Protein Changes Show Decline in Kidney Function

They found an age-related trend of changes in the mRNA and proteins in the mice that would suggest that the rodents have generated more immune cells and increased inflammation in their kidneys, including a deceased function in the mitochondria, a membrane-bound cell organelle, which provides energy for the cells.

Treatments to Increase Protein Levels, Stop Protein Breakdown

But not all protein changes would correspond with the mRNA changes and this suggests that a number of the protein changes happen after the transcription of genes into RNA. This could imply that kidneys produce lesser amounts of new proteins as they age or that proteins are broken down more swiftly, as reported by NDTV.

Should succeeding studies confirm this, their findings could mean that treatments or interventions that hasten protein building or slow protein breakdown is advantageous for treating age-related kidney diseases.

The study shows that mRNA measurements alone offer an inadequate picture of the molecular changes initiated by aging in the kidney. Analyzing these protein changes is essential in getting to know more about how aging affects the kidney and crafting new approaches for better treatments for kidney illnesses.

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