Kidney diseases constitute a serious public health burden worldwide, with substantial associated morbidity and mortality. The role of a genetic contribution to kidney disease is supported by heritability studies of kidney function measures, the presence of monogenic diseases with renal manifestations, and familial aggregation studies of complex kidney diseases, such as chronic kidney disease. Because complex diseases arise from the combination of multiple genetic and environmental risk factors, the identification of underlying genetic susceptibility variants has been challenging. Recently, genome-wide association studies have emerged as a method to conduct searches for such susceptibility variants. They have successfully identified genomic loci that contain variants associated with kidney diseases and measures of kidney function. For example, common variants in the UMOD and PRKAG2 genes are associated with risk of chronic kidney disease; variants in CLDN14 with risk of kidney stone disease; and variants in or near SHROOM3, STC1, LASS2, GCKR, NAT8/ALMS1, TFDP2, DAB2, SLC34A1, VEGFA, FAM122A/PIP5K1B, ATXN2, DACH1, UBE2Q2/FBXO22, and SLC7A9, with differences in glomerular filtration rate. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the genome-wide association study method as it relates to nephrology research and summarize recent findings in the field. Results from genome-wide association studies of renal phenotypes represent a first step toward improving our knowledge about underlying mechanisms of kidney function and disease and ultimately may aid in the improved treatment and prevention of kidney diseases.
Copyright © 2010 National Kidney Foundation, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.