South West Thames Kidney Fund

Supporting Research into Kidney Disease and Diabetes

Funding > Research > Cure


causes of kidney disease



Sometimes the kidneys can stop working properly relatively suddenly, over a period of hours to days (acute renal failure).  This can happen if the kidneys are exposed to some poisonous chemicals or drugs, or if they don’t get enough blood supply (for example, in cases of severe dehydration, or if the body suddenly loses a lot of blood after an accident).  Occasionally the body’s own immune system can mistakenly attack the kidneys and cause acute renal failure. However, most often the kidneys gradually stop working over a period of months or years (called chronic renal failure or chronic kidney disease).  There are several causes of chronic kidney disease.  The two major causes are diabetes and high blood pressure.


In diabetes, excess sugar in the blood can damage the glomerulus.  In high blood pressure the excessive pressure can do the same thing . A damaged glomerulus becomes ‘leaky’ and stops filtering out the things that it should.  Some of the larger molecules in the blood such as albumin (a protein) that are normally retained by the glomerulus  are allowed to pass into the tubule.  The filtered wastes and albumin then move on to the tubules to be processed into urine.   However, the tubules are not able to deal with the albumin, and this causes the cells in the tubules to produce substances and/or signals which lead to scarring and a gradual decrease in kidney function.


Benner & Rector’s the Kidney.  Barry M Brenner Saunders;  9th Edition, 2012 


NDT Plus Carmine Zoccali, Anneke Kramer and Kitty J Jager 2010 Chronic kidney disease and en-stage renal disease


About chronic kidney disease:  A guide for patients and their families.
National Kidney Foundation.


Human nephron number:  implications for health and disease.
Bertram JF1, Douglas-Denton RN, Diouf B, Hughson MD, Hoy WE




15 January 2015; Vs 4