Published: 17 Jan 2020 | Last Updated: 17 Jan 2020 16:30:06

A new PetSavers grant has been awarded to Dr Jack Lawson to work on Urinary extracellular vesicles as a source of biomarkers in feline chronic kidney disease and hypertension.

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and high blood pressure are very common in geriatric cats, however the underlying causes of these conditions remain unclear. Further characterisation of the processes underlying the development of CKD and high blood pressure in cats, could identify new ways to treat these conditions. There is also a need for non-invasive methods for evaluating the health of specific areas of the kidney, which could provide more precise diagnostic and prognostic information for cats affected by a variety of kidney disorders.  

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are microscopically small ‘parcels’ released from all cells, including the kidney. They contain proteins from the cell of origin, including channels at the cell surface. It is possible that altered amounts of these surface channels in kidney cells contribute to the development of high blood pressure in cats. EVs released by the kidney are present in urine, and contain surface channels and proteins that may reflect the health of different structures within the kidney. Proteins within EVs are also protected from degradation, therefore EVs represent an unexplored reservoir of information in cats with CKD and/or high blood pressure.  

We aim to isolate EVs from the urine of healthy cats and cats with CKD +/- high blood pressure, and characterise their protein content. We hypothesize that there will be differences in the protein content of EVs derived from cats with CKD and high blood pressure, and that comparison of these groups will provide a novel insight into factors involved in these disease processes. Furthermore, we hypothesize that evaluation of urinary EVs represents a non-invasive diagnostic tool, a “liquid biopsy”, which could provide detailed information on kidney health and the mechanisms underlying high blood pressure in clinical cases.

A photo of Jack
A photo of “Jack”, one of many older cats suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the UK. We hope this project will provide new insights into the pathogenesis of CKD and hypertension in cats, and potentially lead to the identification of novel biomarkers of disease and drug targets.

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