Certain genetic variants found in more than 30 percent of African Americans may be considered a double-edged sword: a new study indicates that they protect against a parasitic infection but increase the risk of developing kidney disease (Genovese G, et al. Association of trypanolytic spoL1 variants with kidney disease in African-Americans. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.1193032 [published online ahead of print July 15, 2010]).
“The findings are very exciting,” said Thomas Hostetter, MD, chief of the division of nephrology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “Large risks from single genes seem rare for common diseases.”
Studying how these genetic alterations contribute to kidney injury could help clinicians understand and potentially prevent kidney disease in individuals of recent African ancestry.