In Japan, more than 13 million people suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), or roughly one in every eight adults. Why has the number of CKD patients increased so remarkably? One major cause is the sharp increase in the number of people with diabetic nephropathy, which is a complication of diabetes; since 1998, this has been the most important cause among diseases which require incipient dialysis. Additional causes include the aging of society and other social factors. The kidney is called a silent organ, and CKD progresses without subjective symptoms. It is now evident, however, that asymptomatic CKD which progresses over time carries a number of risks.

One risk is the possible progression of CKD to end-stage kidney failure, which requires renal replacement therapy. A second risk is the development and progression of lifestyle-related diseases, such as heart attack and arteriosclerosis. The kidneys work closely with the heart and other organs, and a decrease in renal function causes dysfunction of the heart and blood vessels. This adverse impact of the progression of CKD on other organs underlines the importance of the kidneys in maintaining general health. Further, many researchers have also focused on the vicious spiral of aging and CKD: aging worsens the progression of CKD, while CKD accelerates aging. With our modern lifestyles and the super-aging society, CKD cannot be separated from lifestyle-related diseases, and senility cannot be separated from CKD.

Creating a healthy, long-lived society full of energy and vigor requires that the quality of life (QOL) of the elderly be improved. In turn, total medical expenditures will also be decreased. These are important issues requiring urgent solutions. Against this background, the Division of CKD Pathophysiology was newly established in November 2013 with support from Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd. The aim of the Division is to aid and support the control CKD and the creation of a healthy, long-lived society. The Division takes an innovative approach to identifying the pathophysiology of CKD, and works to develop more effective CKD preventive and therapeutic strategies. Through these research activities, our goal is to contribute to the creation of a healthy, long-lived society in which the elderly can live a happy and independent life.

Major research themes

  • The Division of CKD Pathophysiology works in collaboration with the Division of Nephrology and Endocrinology, a part of The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine (Professor Masaomi Nangaku) to conduct basic and clinical research on CKD pathophysiology, including:
  • Identifying the mechanism of destruction of adaptive signals to various stresses (endoplasmic reticulum stress, ischemia, glycative stress, oxidative stress) in CKD; and using the findings obtained to establish new CKD treatment strategies
  • Clarifying the mechanism of functional change in renal erythropoietin (EPO)-producing cells, along with the mechanisms of CKD progression and identification of the mechanism of development and progress of renal anemia
  • Identifying factors in the exacerbation of CDK in patients with diabetes, and developing diagnostic and therapeutic drugs targeting such factors

We look forward to collaboration with colleagues across multiple disciplines and specialties, and warmly invite your participation in our research.

Reiko Inagi, PhD
Division Chief and Associate Professor,
Division of CKD Pathophysiology,
The University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine