09:50am Friday 21 February 2020

Cause for Racial Disparities in Kidney Failure Explained

News Article ImageAccording to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney failure has a disproportionate impact on minority populations, especially African Americans. The incidence of kidney failure in African Americans is nearly four times greater than in whites.

Led by Emory University Professor of Medicine William M. McClellan, Jr., MD, MPH, researchers examined data from 27,911 individuals, finding that African Americans are more likely to excrete larger amounts of protein in their urine than whites. The study,“Albuminuria and Racial Disparities in the Risk for ESRD,” was published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

“Our large nationwide study brings attention to higher levels of urinary protein excretion as important contributors to the increased incidence of kidney failure experienced by African Americans,” said McClellan, who also has an appointment in Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. “Treating urinary protein excretion may help reduce racial disparities related to kidney failure as well as reduce the rate of progression to kidney failure for all individuals.”

Investigators speculate that several factors may explain why African Americans tend to excrete more protein in their urine. These could include blood pressure and other heart-related factors, obesity, smoking, vitamin D levels, genetic differences, income and birth weight. These factors may act at different times during an individual’s life to affect kidney health.

Study co-authors include David Warnock, MD, Suzanne Judd, PhD, Paul Muntner, PhD, Leslie McClure, PhD, George Howard, DrPh (University of Alabama at Birmingham); Reshma Kewalramani, MD (Amgen Corporation); Mary Cushman, MD (University of Vermont); and Britt Newsome, MD (Denver Nephrologists, PC).


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Contacts:       Kerry Ludlam: (404) 727-5692

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