African Americans face higher rates of kidney failure compared to Caucasians. This may be due to a gene variant found in blacks, but there is still not enough evidence to support such a claim. Therefore, gene screening in blacks for the variant may not be justified.
The variant occurs in a gene called apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1), which is responsible for producing a protein for good cholesterol. Nearly five million blacks carry an APOL1 variant, yet not all of these individuals will develop kidney disease.
Johns Hopkins researchers looked at data from over 15,000 Americans who were followed for nearly 25 years. The researchers noted that blacks were more likely to develop kidney failure, compared to whites.
Another significant finding was that individuals with the APOL1 variant had similar kidney function to those without the variant. Dr. Morgan Grams, an assistant professor of medicine at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Hopkins, said in a news release, “We did find pervasive racial disparities in adverse health outcomes not explained by the APOL1 risk variants, which suggests that interventions to improve health and health outcomes in African Americans are needed.”
Additional research is required to better understand the racial differences with regards to kidney failure.