Lines of research
Glomerular diseasesThe glomerulus plays an essential role in the filtration of blood and the formation of urine. Knowledge of the structure and function of the glomerulus aids in understanding the clinical manifestations of glomerular diseases. Within the renal disorders theme, research on glomerular diseases is aimed at unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying proteinuria, glomerular inflammation and sclerosis.
Research lines focus on the role of heparan sulfate at the structure-functional level and the glomerular endothelial glycocalyx. The development of anti-chromatin autoantibodies and lupus nephritis is another key interest, and focuses on the effects of apoptotic blebs and apoptosis-induced chromatin modifications on dendritic cells. In addition, the role of podocyte injury in proteinuric glomerular diseases is studied, with special emphasis on the TRPC6 calcium channel and its role in focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.
Renal replacement therapy
Alternatively, we focus on the identification of biomarkers for nephrotoxic kidney injury. Also, the role of drug transporters in renal regeneration is investigated, with an emphasis on the role of stem cells in kidney tissue repair. When kidneys are damaged and renal function is lost, patients depend on haemodialysis to remove waste products from their blood. This procedure, however, causes an accumulation of certain waste products, leading to severe health complaints.
The research lines within the renal disorders theme focus on both clinical and experimental research topics concerning renal transplantation. Various aspects of immune regulation are studied, such as the generation and characterization of tolerogenic dendritic cells, and the role of chemokines and heparan sulfate. As part of the BioKid consortium, researchers from the renal disorders theme aim to develop living membranes for an intradialytic biological kidney support device, which will be capable of effective clearance of toxins ex vivo, improving haemodialysis.
Tubular disordersIn the kidney, prourine is concentrated along the nephron, where water and valuable electrolytes are reabsorbed to prevent excess losses via the urine. Over the last decades, a large number of patients were studied that suffer from hereditary defects leading to rare tubular disorders. These studies have led to the identification of a number of proteins and hormones that are involved in water and electrolyte homeostasis.
Within the renal disorders theme, research lines focus on tubular transport of calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron and water. Studies mainly focus on the function and (hormonal) regulation of the transport proteins and channels that are responsible for the reabsorption of electrolytes and water in the kidney. In addition, the role of other organs, such as intestine, blood and bone, are studied, as they are essential to maintain homeostasis.
News, events, impact and organization
European Reference Network
ERKNet is the European Reference Network for Rare Kidney Diseases, a consortium of 38 expert pediatric and adult nephrology centers in 12 European countries providing healthcare to more than 40,000 patients with rare disorders of the kidneys.
The ERKNet partners offer top quality multidisciplinary healthcare for a wide range of rare kidney disorders. They uniformly apply clinical guidelines and pathways according to latest medical knowledge and strictly monitor the quality and outcomes of therapy across the Network.
Supported by the EU, ERKNet offers virtual consultation services to physicians throughout Europe who need advice for challenging cases with a rare kidney disease.
ERKNet is dedicated to improve knowledge about rare kidney diseases among patients and healthcare professionals. We disseminate disease information via this website and by multiple education and training activities.
ERKNet actively supports clinical research to improve diagnosis and risk prediction and advance the development of new therapies for patients with rare kidney disorders.