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Knowing your kidneys and chronic kidney disease

Many people with chronic kidney disease don’t know they have it. Take a look at the key facts about kidneys and chronic kidney disease below.

Key kidney facts

Knowing your kidneys

Most people have two kidneys, each about the size of a fist. They’re located on either side of the spine at the lowest level of the rib cage.

The kidney’s main job

  • Remove waste from the body to make urine
  • Balance fluids in the body
  • Control blood pressure
  • Promote strong and healthy bones

Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidneys don’t work how they’re supposed to. This can cause:

  • Weight loss and poor appetite
  • Swollen ankles, feet, or hands
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness

Causes of kidney problems

  • There are many types of chronic kidney disease with different causes
  • Other conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can cause kidney disease
  • Some kidney conditions run in families (like APOL1-mediated kidney disease)

APOL1-mediated kidney disease

  • APOL1-mediated kidney disease is caused by a substance in the body called the APOL1 protein.
  • We all have the APOL1 protein; however, some people have differences in their DNA (the genetic material in our body that carries information about how our body works) that means they carry a modified type of APOL1 protein, known as a variant.
  • People with APOL1 variants are at a higher risk for chronic kidney disease, but it is still not known how the variants causes kidney disease.
  • Several thousand years ago, APOL1 variant genes evolved in people who lived in Western and Central Africa, to protect them from a parasitic disease known as African sleeping sickness.
  • This means that variants of APOL1 are more likely to occur in people of African descent, including people who identify as African American, Black, Caribbean, Sub-Saharan African, and Latino (Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or South or Central American).

How do I know if I carry an APOL1 variant?

The only way to find out is to examine your DNA, in a process called genetic testing. The AMPLITUDE clinical research study involves an investigational genetic test.

About genetic testing

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The AMPLITUDE clinical research study is exploring an investigational study drug for APOL1-mediated kidney disease.