Normally the kidneys are small in size – about the size of a tennis ball, but people with the genetic condition known as polycystic kidney disease, or PKD, have kidneys that balloon up to five or six times their normal size due to the formation of cysts. But there may be good news on the horizon for people who suffer with cysts on the kidneys. A common diabetic drug called pioglitazone could help treat the symptoms of PKD – a condition which affects up to 1 in 1,000 people.
What is PKD?
Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes cysts on the kidneys to form. This leads to massive swelling and enlargement of the kidneys. Over time, kidney function declines as a result of the cysts – and kidney failure usually ensues. In fact, most PKD sufferers have serious kidney disease by the time they reach their sixties.
Until now, there hasn’t been a good treatment for polycystic kidney disease, and the focus has been mainly on controlling blood pressures and other factors that hasten the onset of kidney failure. But a new study offers hope of reducing the cysts on the kidneys that are so characteristic of this disease.
A New Treatment for Cysts on the Kidneys?
According to new research published in the journal PPAR Research, a diabetes drug called pioglitazone slows down growth of cystic kidneys due to polycystic kidney disease. Kidney cysts become larger when chloride and water are transported into the cysts causing them to swell. Pioglitazone has the unique ability to block channels that transport chloride into these cysts, which prevents their expansion. This is good news for PKD sufferers who often suffer from abdominal discomfort and esophageal reflux due to their large kidney size.
Even though pioglitazone reduces the size of cysts on the kidneys and relieves some of the symptoms of PKD, it’s not clear whether it ultimately prolongs survival. More studies are needed to look at this issue.
Pioglitazone appears to be safe to use and has already been approved by the FDA for treatment of diabetes, although it’s too early for it to have gained approval specifically for treating polycystic kidney disease.
Pioglitazone to Treat Cystic Kidneys: The Bottom Line?
This drug could be a bright spot on the horizon for people who suffer from cysts on the kidney due to PKD. Hopefully, it will help relieve some of the symptoms of this relatively common disease, and, possibly, prolong life.
Medical News Today. “Common Diabetes Drug May Halt Growth of Cysts in Polycystic Kidney Disease”