2007 Young Investigator Award: TRP'ing into a new era for glomerular disease.
FSGS is a pathologic lesion that frequently causes the nephrotic syndrome and ensuing renal failure. The cause remains unknown in the majority of individuals; however, in the past two decades, rare familial forms have been identified. It has been suggested that known genetic causes of the hereditary form of this disease account for upwards of 18% of cases. Mutations in five genes have been found to cause inherited nephrotic syndromes and FSGS. In this article, I discuss the phenotypic characteristics of hereditary FSGS and the transient receptor potential cation channel 6 (TRPC6) protein, which is the genetic impetus for an autosomal dominant form of FSGS. The TRP channels have been implicated in varied biologic functions such as mechanosensation, ion homeostasis, cell growth, and phospholipase C-dependent calcium entry into cells. The mutated ion channel causes an increase in calcium transients. Current evidence also suggests that blocking TRPC6 channels may be of therapeutic benefit in idiopathic FSGS, a disease with a generally poor prognosis. Preliminary experiments reveal that the commonly used immunosuppressive agent FK-506 can inhibit TRPC6 activity in vivo. This creates the intriguing possibility that blocking TRPC6 channels within the podocyte may translate into long-lasting clinical benefits in patients with FSGS.
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