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Common noncoding UMOD gene variants induce salt-sensitive hypertension and kidney damage by increasing uromodulin expression


Abstract

Hypertension and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are complex traits representing major global health problems. Multiple genome-wide association studies have identified common variants in the promoter of the UMOD gene, which encodes uromodulin, the major protein secreted in normal urine, that cause independent susceptibility to CKD and hypertension. Despite compelling genetic evidence for the association between UMOD risk variants and disease susceptibility in the general population, the underlying biological mechanism is not understood. Here, we demonstrate that UMOD risk variants increased UMOD expression in vitro and in vivo. Uromodulin overexpression in transgenic mice led to salt-sensitive hypertension and to the presence of age-dependent renal lesions similar to those observed in elderly individuals homozygous for UMOD promoter risk variants. The link between uromodulin and hypertension is due to activation of the renal sodium cotransporter NKCC2. We demonstrated the relevance of this mechanism in humans by showing that pharmacological inhibition of NKCC2 was more effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients who are homozygous for UMOD promoter risk variants than in other hypertensive patients. Our findings link genetic susceptibility to hypertension and CKD to the level of uromodulin expression and uromodulin's effect on salt reabsorption in the kidney. These findings point to uromodulin as a therapeutic target for lowering blood pressure and preserving renal function.

Abstract

Hypertension and chronic kidney disease (CKD) are complex traits representing major global health problems. Multiple genome-wide association studies have identified common variants in the promoter of the UMOD gene, which encodes uromodulin, the major protein secreted in normal urine, that cause independent susceptibility to CKD and hypertension. Despite compelling genetic evidence for the association between UMOD risk variants and disease susceptibility in the general population, the underlying biological mechanism is not understood. Here, we demonstrate that UMOD risk variants increased UMOD expression in vitro and in vivo. Uromodulin overexpression in transgenic mice led to salt-sensitive hypertension and to the presence of age-dependent renal lesions similar to those observed in elderly individuals homozygous for UMOD promoter risk variants. The link between uromodulin and hypertension is due to activation of the renal sodium cotransporter NKCC2. We demonstrated the relevance of this mechanism in humans by showing that pharmacological inhibition of NKCC2 was more effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients who are homozygous for UMOD promoter risk variants than in other hypertensive patients. Our findings link genetic susceptibility to hypertension and CKD to the level of uromodulin expression and uromodulin's effect on salt reabsorption in the kidney. These findings point to uromodulin as a therapeutic target for lowering blood pressure and preserving renal function.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Physiology
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Physiology

04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2013
Deposited On:22 Nov 2013 08:19
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:10
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1078-8956
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.3384
PubMed ID:24185693

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