Low protein levels may up kidney function decline in elderly

New York: Older adults with low blood levels of a circulating protein in the blood may be at an increased risk of experiencing decline in their kidney function, a study has found.

The findings showed that higher blood levels of a protein called soluble klotho — with anti-ageing properties — may help preserve kidney function.

“We found a strong association between low soluble klotho and decline in kidney function, independent of many known risk factors for kidney function decline,” said David Drew from Tufts University in Massachusetts, US.

The kidney has the highest levels of klotho expression and is likely the major source of soluble klotho, and thus, in patients with kidney disease levels of klotho tend to be low.

Although the exact mechanism of action of soluble klotho remains to be identified, the protein has been shown to influence multiple cellular and endocrine pathways, the researchers said.

After adjusting for various factors such as demographics, comorbidities, and kidney disease risk factors, each two-fold higher level of klotho was linked with a 15-20 per cent lower likelihood of experiencing kidney function decline in the elderly.

“This suggests that klotho could play a role in the development of chronic kidney disease and also raises the possibility that klotho could be an important therapeutic target for future clinical trials,” Drew added.

For the study, the team analysed 2496 study elderly with measures of soluble serum klotho and repeated measures of kidney function over 10 years of follow up.

Although additional studies are needed, the findings point to a potential target for preventing and treating kidney disease, the researchers stated.

The study is forthcoming in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN).