Racial differences in the cause, natural history, and effects of chronic kidney disease have long been the subject of investigation. Dialysis-dependent kidney failure occurs nearly 4 times more often in African Americans than European Americans. Despite this observation, studies repeatedly show that African Americans have a significant survival advantage after initiating dialysis therapy. Although this phenomenon has been attributed to environmental and socioeconomic factors, recent studies show that inherited factors strongly influence racial differences in the development of diverse kidney diseases and may affect the risk of nephropathy-associated cardiovascular disease. We review relevant studies and propose the hypothesis that inherited factors leading to organ-limited kidney diseases and a lower burden of systemic atherosclerosis contribute in part to the improved survival rates in African American patients on dialysis therapy.
Copyright 2010 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.