Apolipoprotein L1 and apolipoprotein A-IV and their association with kidney function

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Purpose of review

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common disease with an estimated prevalence of 10–12%. There are pronounced differences between ethnicities with a 3-fold to 4-fold higher lifetime risk for end-stage kidney disease in African Americans compared to European Americans. The purpose of this review was to discuss recent findings on two apolipoproteins (apolipoprotein L1 and A-IV) in the context of kidney disease and kidney function.

Recent findings

The observation that certain apolipoprotein L1 risk genotypes that are only present in African Americans might explain a major fraction of the ethnic differences for nondiabetic CKD has set the stage for this otherwise under-researched apolipoprotein. These risk genotypes on the one hand protect African Americans against African sleeping sickness but cause on the other hand several types of nondiabetic CKD. We are currently beginning to understand the mechanisms how apolipoprotein L1 is involved in the modification of lysosomal and cytoplasmic membranes. The second protein, apolipoprotein A-IV (apoA-IV), turned out to be an early marker of kidney impairment not only in patients with primary CKD but also in individuals from the general population. Genetic studies provided strong support of a causal effect of kidney function on apoA-IV concentrations.


These two apolipoproteins have very distinct properties. Apolipoprotein L1 is causally involved in the development of nondiabetic CKD in African Americans. In contrast, apoA-IV is an early marker for kidney impairment.

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