Nicotine receptors on kidneys may speed kidney damage

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Oct. 4 Scientists say they have found nicotine receptors on kidney cells that may link nicotine to accelerated kidney damage in cigarette smokers.

Their research -- presented at the American Heart Association's 60th Annual Fall Conference of the Council for High Blood Pressure Research -- also identifies nicotine as the component of cigarette smoke that damages the kidneys.

"There are many substances in cigarette smoke and nicotine is one of the more investigated ones," said Edgar A. Jaimes, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida. "Initially, it was believed that the nicotine component of cigarette smoke was only responsible for the addictive effects of smoking. However, now we are finding out that nicotine can have significant biological effects in other tissues."

The kidneys regulate the body's excretion and reabsorption of water and electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, sulfate, phosphate and hydrogen). If the kidneys are less able to excrete these substances, extracellular fluid and blood volumes increase. High buildups of wastes in the blood can make a person feel sick.

Kidney disease is the most common cause of secondary hypertension (high blood pressure). Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death for all people with chronic kidney disease. Even subtle disruptions in kidney function play a role in most, if not all, cases of high blood pressure and increased injury to the kidneys. If kidney disease progresses, it may lead to kidney failure, which requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to maintain life.

"There is evidence that smokers with health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure progress to kidney disease faster than nonsmokers," Jaimes said. "It's not clear which of the many components in cigarette smoke causes this, so we decided to perform our experiments to try to clarify the role that nicoti

Contact: Wynette Randolph
American Heart Association

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