Journal Article

Urine podocin:nephrin mRNA ratio (PNR) as a podocyte stress biomarker

Akihiro Fukuda, Larysa T. Wickman, Madhusudan P. Venkatareddy, Su Q. Wang, Mahboob A. Chowdhury, Jocelyn E. Wiggins, Kerby A. Shedden and Roger C. Wiggins

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 27, issue 11, pages 4079-4087
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Urine podocin:nephrin mRNA ratio (PNR) as a podocyte stress biomarker

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Proteinuria and/or albuminuria are widely used for noninvasive assessment of kidney diseases. However, proteinuria is a nonspecific marker of diverse forms of kidney injury, physiologic processes and filtration of small proteins of monoclonal and other pathologic processes. The opportunity to develop new glomerular disease biomarkers follows the realization that the degree of podocyte depletion determines the degree of glomerulosclerosis, and if persistent, determines the progression to end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). Podocyte cell lineage-specific mRNAs can be recovered in urine pellets of model systems and in humans. In model systems, progressive glomerular disease is associated with decreased nephrin mRNA steady-state levels compared with podocin mRNA. Thus, the urine podocin:nephrin mRNA ratio (PNR) could serve as a useful progression biomarker. The use of podocyte-specific transcript ratios also circumvents many problems inherent to urine assays.


To test this hypothesis, the human diphtheria toxin receptor (hDTR) rat model of progression was used to evaluate potentially useful urine mRNA biomarkers. We compared histologic progression parameters (glomerulosclerosis score, interstitial fibrosis score and percent of podocyte depletion) with clinical biomarkers [serum creatinine, systolic blood pressure (BP), 24-h urine volume, 24-h urine protein excretion and the urine protein:creatinine ratio(PCR)] and with the novel urine mRNA biomarkers.


The PNR correlated with histologic outcome as well or better than routine clinical biomarkers and other urine mRNA biomarkers in the model system with high specificity and sensitivity, and a low coefficient of assay variation.


We concluded that the PNR, used in combination with proteinuria, will be worth testing for its clinical diagnostic and decision-making utility.

Keywords: glomerular disease; podocyte; proteinuria; urine biomarker; urine podocin:nephrin mRNA ratio

Journal Article.  4308 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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