Background: An epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD) of non-traditional aetiology has been recently recognized by health authorities as a public health priority in Central America. Previous studies have identified strenuous manual work, agricultural activities and residence at low altitude as potential risk factors; however, the aetiology remains unknown. Because individuals are frequently diagnosed with CKD in early adulthood, we measured biomarkers of kidney injury among adolescents in different regions of Nicaragua to assess whether kidney damage might be initiated during childhood.
Methods: Participants include 200 adolescents aged 12-18 years with no prior work history from four different schools in Nicaragua. The location of the school served as a proxy for environmental exposures and geographic locations were selected to represent a range of factors that have been associated with CKD in adults (e.g. altitude, primary industry and CKD mortality rates). Questionnaires, urine dipsticks and kidney injury biomarkers [interleukin-18, N-acetyl-d-glucosaminidase (NAG), neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and albumin-creatinine ratio] were assessed. Biomarker concentrations were compared by school using linear regression models.
Results: Protein (3.5%) and glucose (1%) in urine measured by dipstick were rare and did not differ by school. Urine biomarkers of tubular kidney damage, particularly NGAL and NAG, showed higher concentrations in those schools and regions within Nicaragua that were defined a priori as having increased CKD risk. Painful urination was a frequent self-reported symptom.
Conclusions: Although interpretation of these urine biomarkers is limited because of the lack of population reference values, results suggest the possibility of early kidney damage prior to occupational exposures in these adolescents.
Keywords: Mesoamerican Nephropathy; Nicaragua; adolescents; chronic kidney disease; urine biomarkers.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ERA-EDTA. All rights reserved.