U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Shared Gene Networks Link Diabetic Kidney Disease in Humans, Mice

‚ÄčScientists comparingnetworks of activated genes in the human and mouse kidney have identiied several common patterns that may lead to the development of better mouse models of diabetic kidney disease.

While animal models have proven invaluable in biomedical research, their applicability to human disease can have limitations. Current mouse models of diabetic kidney disease most faithfully reproduce only the early stages of the disease; the disease does not progress in mice as it does in humans. To better understand these differences, researchers examined the patterns of genes that were turned on in three different mouse strains that have been used to model diabetic kidney disease and compared them with samples taken from people with diabetic kidney disease.

The researchers focused on genes in the glomerulus, the iltering unit within the kidney. Activation of certain signaling genes was observed in all comparison groups. Other genes were only activated in humans and one or two of the mouse models. This suggests that different mouse models may more closely replicate different aspects of human diabetic kidney disease.

Selection of the best mouse model to evaluate speciic molecular pathways or potential treatments presents a signiicant research problem. The results of this study may help to unravel the complex network of gene activity that can lead to diabetic kidney disease. It may also facilitate future research endeavors by helping researchers select mouse models most applicable to a human disease process of interest, to focus on the biologic pathways most relevant to human disease, and to generate better mouse models of the disease for further study. 

Hodgin JB, Nair V, Zhang H, et al. Identiication of
cross-species shared transcriptional networks of diabetic
nephropathy in human and mouse glomeruli. Diabetes
62: 299-308, 2013.