Looking for biomarkers that can reveal kidney disease at an early stage

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Johan Ärnlöv is studying kidney disease and its relationship with cardiovascular disease. He is involved in international consortiums that are mapping kidney disease globally. Ärnlöv is also conducting research on new biomarkers for early renal disease and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Johan Ärnlöv. Foto: Creo Media Group.Johan Ärnlöv is researching into the interaction between the kid¬neys and the cardiovascular system. It has been known for a long time that severe kidney disease is associated with a large increase in the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, relatively recent knowledge shows that even very mild signs of kidney damage gives a markedly increased risk. 

“Today, we know that five to ten percent of the population have impaired kidney function and, therefore, a higher risk of cardiovascular disease,” Johan Ärnlöv comments. “This percen-tage will most probably become even higher in the future, not only because people are living longer but also because obesity and type 2 diabetes are becoming more common.” 

He is involved in several major international research collabora¬tions, such as the Chronic Kidney Disease Prognosis Consortium and the Global Burden of Disease, which are mapping the occurrence of renal disease and its relationship with cardiovascular disease globally.  Another research track for Johan Ärnlöv is the use of innovative techniques in proteomics and metabolomics to identify new bio¬markers that can detect kidney disease, and the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, at a very early stage. These involve single markers as well as groups of biomarkers. 

“We have found some promising markers, even though we still have a long way to go before we can introduce them into the clinics,” he comments. 

A good example is endostatin, for which there is a strong link between elevated levels in blood and damage to the kidneys, blood vessels and heart, as well as a very high risk of cardiovascular disease and death. A new study has identified twenty proteins that are independent markers for impairment of kidney function.

Johan Ärnlöv 

Professor of Family Medicine at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society

Johan Ärnlöv was born in Ludvika in 1970. He received his medical degree from Uppsala University, graduating in 1998 and was awarded a PhD at the same university in 2002. His post-doctoral studies took him to the Boston University School of Medicine, USA, in 2004, and he has since continued with research at Uppsala University financed by the Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation and the Swedish Research Council. 

In 2009 he became an Associate Professor.  Johan Ärnlöv is also employed by Dalarna University where he has been a Professor since 2015.  Ärnlöv works as a clinician for Dalarna County Council, currently as a resident physician at the Norslund primary care clinic.  On 1 March 2017, Johan Ärnlöv was appointed Professor of Family Medicine at Karolinska Institutet.

Text: Anders Nilsson, translated from Swedish, first published in “From Cell to Society” 2017.

Cardiovascular DiseasesMetabolismProfessor