Kidney stones affect 9% of the population and idiopathic hypercalciuria is the major pathogenic risk factor. Our long-term goal is to elucidate the pathogenesis of idiopathic hypercalciuria and develop novel therapies. The renal proximal tubule reabsorbs 70% of filtered calcium, which is believed to occur via the paracellular pathway. Claudin-2 is a paracellular cation channel that is expressed in the proximal renal tubule and in intestinal epithelium. In preliminary studies, we show that claudin-2 knockout mice have renal and absorptive hypercalciuria, leading to severe papillary nephrocalcinosis. Moreover, we find that claudin-2 gene variants are associated with kidney stone disease in humans. We hypothesize that claudin-2 mediates calcium reabsorption in the proximal tubule and calcium secretion in the colon. Loss of claudin-2 increases calcium delivery to the loop of Henle, and predisposes to inner medullary calcium deposition and hence kidney stone disease.
The specific aims to test this hypothesis are: (1) Test whether claudin-2 mediates paracellular calcium reabsorption in the renal proximal tubule. We will use tubule micropuncture of claudin-2 global knockout mice, determine the contribution of the proximal tubule with kidney-specific conditional knockout mice, test the role of claudin-2 in the hypocalciuric effect of thiazides, and explore the effect of sex. (2) Test whether claudin-2 mediates intestinal secretion of calcium. We will generate intestine-specific claudin-2 knockout mice and perform tracer flux assays in everted intestinal sacs and Ussing chamber preparations. (3) Test whether human claudin-2 gene variants and protein expression are associated with urine calcium and kidney stones. We will conduct a gene association study in 3 U.S. population-based cohorts to test the association of claudin-2 gene polymorphisms with a history of kidney stones and calcium excretion. In a separate cohort of kidney stone formers and matched normal volunteers, we will test the association of claudin-2 protein abundance in urinary exosomes with hypercalciuric kidney stone disease.

Public Health Relevance

This project seeks to understand the mechanism and role of claudins, which are proteins found at the cell junction in the proximal tubule of the kidney. This may lead to novel insights into how the kidney regulates calcium in the urine, what factors increase risk for kidney stones, and to the development of new treatments to reduce urine calcium and kidney stone frequency.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Kidney Molecular Biology and Genitourinary Organ Development (KMBD)
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Ketchum, Christian J
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University of Kansas
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
Kansas City
United States
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