APOL1 risk alleles are associated with exaggerated age-related changes in glomerular number and volume in African-American adults: an autopsy study

Wendy E Hoy, Michael D Hughson, Jeffrey B Kopp, Susan A Mott, John F Bertram, Cheryl A Winkler

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APOL1 genetic variants contribute to kidney disease in African Americans. We assessed correlations between APOL1 profiles and renal histological features in subjects without renal disease. Glomerular number (Nglom) and mean glomerular volume (Vglom) were measured by the dissector/fractionator method in kidneys of African-American and non-African-American adults without renal disease, undergoing autopsies in Jackson, Mississippi. APOL1 risk alleles were genotyped and the kidney findings were evaluated in the context of those profiles. The proportions of African Americans with none, one, and two APOL1 risk alleles were 38 , 43 , and 19 , respectively; 38 of African Americans had G1 allele variants and 31 of African Americans had G2 allele variants. Only APOL1-positive African Americans had significant reductions in Nglom and increases in Vglom with increasing age. Regression analysis predicted an annual average loss of 8834 (P=0.03, sex adjusted) glomeruli per single kidney over the first 38 years of adult life in African Americans with two risk alleles. Body mass index above the group medians, but below the obesity definition of >/=30 kg/m2, enhanced the expression of age-related changes in Nglom in African Americans with either one or two APOL1 risk alleles. These findings indicate that APOL1 risk alleles are associated with exaggerated age-related nephron loss, probably decaying from a larger pool of smaller glomeruli in early adult life, along with enlargement of the remaining glomeruli. These phenomena might mark mechanisms of accentuated susceptibility to kidney disease in APOL1-positive African Americans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3179 - 3189
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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