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Key Advances in Nephrology

The Key Advances in Nephrology collection offers a unique series of specially commissioned ‘Year in Review’ articles that highlight the key discoveries made each year. In these articles, leading experts in the field describe their pick of the top 3–5 key advances of the year, outlining their clinical impact and implications for current and future research.

2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Movement for Black Lives have focused attention on racial disparities in kidney health outcomes. In 2020, kidney professionals highlighted threats posed by racism and other negative social drivers of kidney health, and proposed solutions to address these issues through scholarship and advocacy for social justice.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been devastating; however, evidence suggests that patients with, or at risk of, kidney disease are disproportionally affected. Patients on dialysis and kidney transplant recipients are at higher risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19, whereas, conversely, patients with severe COVID-19 are at increased risk of acute kidney injury, with short-term and possibly long-term consequences for nephrological care.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Sodium–glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors offer impressive cardiac and kidney outcome benefits to people with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). These benefits now appear to extend to people without T2DM, according to three trials published in 2020.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Genetic research in nephrology is rapidly advancing. Key studies published in 2020 demonstrate that genetic findings can provide new tools for patient diagnosis and risk stratification as well as important insights into kidney physiology and disease mechanisms that could potentially lead to novel therapies.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Timely diagnosis and dialytic treatment of acute kidney injury (AKI) came to the forefront at the height of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic as admissions surged in intensive care units. Research on early diagnosis, timing of initiation of kidney replacement therapy, and appropriate post-hospitalization patient care remains essential to tackling the burden of AKI.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

In 2020 a number of clinical trials have provided insights into therapeutic approaches for the treatment of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic autoantibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis and lupus nephritis. Moreover, mechanistic insights have potential to open new therapeutic strategies in the future.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

2019

After nearly two decades, a new therapeutic agent, canagliflozin, received regulatory approval to prevent loss of kidney function, end-stage kidney disease, hospitalization for heart failure and cardiovascular death in patients with diabetic kidney disease. Nonetheless, the residual risk of kidney disease progression and complications remains high, underlining the importance of ongoing therapeutic development.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Acute kidney injury (AKI) is an important clinical problem that is associated with adverse short- and long-term outcomes. Studies published in 2019 provide new insights into the staging, risk stratification and subphenotyping of AKI as well as the adverse effects of AKI on the heart.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

2019 saw advances in the generation of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived nephron progenitors and in our understanding of how nephrons form in a kidney organoid. Fundamental studies of regeneration in zebrafish continue to provide vital clues as to how we might use iPSC-derived cells to regenerate a human nephron in vivo.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Artificial intelligence is increasingly being used to improve diagnosis and prognostication for acute and chronic kidney diseases. Studies with this objective published in 2019 relied on a variety of available data sources, including electronic health records, intraoperative physiological signals, kidney ultrasound imaging, and digitized biopsy specimens.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Single-cell genomics provide a powerful approach to investigate the intrinsic complexity of the kidney and understand the diverse cell types and states that exist during kidney development, homeostasis and disease. Several advances were made in 2019 that enhance our understanding of kidney immune cell states in health and disease and the quality of current kidney organoid model systems for studying human diseases.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

2018

With many failures, a sense of helplessness has overshadowed the field of acute kidney injury (AKI). Publications in 2018 offer new hope: better drug targets, better end points and improved understanding of conditions that cause AKI and its complications bring promise that a drug will soon be available.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

The function of polycystin proteins and the pathogenesis of autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) are not well understood. Studies published in 2018 made important contributions to the understanding of genetic mechanisms, the structure of the polycystin complex and the roles of G-protein signalling and the immune system in ADPKD.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Numerous exciting studies that advanced our understanding of immune-mediated kidney disease were published in 2018. Whereas most of these studies analysed the role of pro-inflammatory mediators, several novel anti-inflammatory mechanisms were discovered that involve immune cells and mediators with previously unrecognized protective roles in renal disease.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

In 2018, consolidating evidence for renoprotective benefits was seen with respect to sodium–glucose cotransporter 2 inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide 1 agonists, which are currently being incorporated into clinical practice. The focus now turns to novel therapeutic targets to optimize renoprotection as diabetic kidney disease grows to epidemic proportions worldwide.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Current related Reviews

Clinical trials have demonstrated that glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor (GLP1R) agonists have therapeutic benefits beyond glycaemic control. Here, the authors examine the protective effects of incretin-based therapies in patients with diabetic kidney disease and how the immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effects of GLP1 might underlie this protection.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

This Review describes our current understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms involved in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and the progression of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), focusing on the immunological hyper-response and the induction of widespread endothelial damage, complement-associated blood clotting and systemic microangiopathy, as well as the effects of these processes on the kidney. The authors also discuss therapeutic interventions that currently hold most promise.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

COVID-19-associated AKI (COVID-19 AKI) is associated with high mortality and is an independent risk factor for all-cause in-hospital death in patients with COVID-19. This Consensus Statement from the Acute Disease Quality Initiative provides recommendations for the diagnosis, prevention and management of COVID-19 AKI and for areas of future research, with the aim of improving understanding of the underlying processes and outcomes for patients with COVID-19 AKI.

Consensus Statement | Open Access | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

Working towards sustainable development is essential to tackle the rise in the global burden of non-communicable diseases, including kidney disease. Five years after the Sustainable Development Goal agenda was set, this Review examines the progress thus far, highlighting future challenges and opportunities, and explores the implications for kidney disease.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Nephrology

An increasing body of evidence suggests that genomic disorders and monogenic aetiologies contribute meaningfully to seemingly complex forms of chronic kidney disease (CKD). This Review describes rare genetic causes of CKD and the genetic and phenotypic complexity of this group of disorders, and discusses novel approaches to help to address the challenges posed by the complexity of CKD.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Nephrology