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UTHSC Researchers Publish Study Indicating Link Between Constipation and Chronic Kidney Disease

Csaba Kovesdy, MD

Research by investigators from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Memphis Veterans Administration Medical Center, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), indicates that individuals with chronic constipation are more likely to develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) and kidney failure.

The connection is significant because constipation is a common condition often diagnosed in primary care settings, particularly in the elderly.

The paper, “Constipation and Incident CKD,” describes the association between constipation and kidney disease. The research was conducted by a team led by Csaba Kovesdy, MD, Fred Hatch Professor of Medicine, director of the Clinical Outcomes and Clinical Trials Program in the Division of Nephrology at UTHSC, and Nephrology Section Chief at the Memphis VA Medical Center. The paper was first-authored by Keiichi Sumida, MD, a postdoctoral visiting scholar in the Department of Nephrology at UTHSC.

The researchers studied information on more than 3.5 million veterans with normal kidney function, who were examined between 2004 and 2006, and followed through 2013. Those with constipation showed a 13 percent higher likelihood of developing chronic kidney disease, and a 9 percent higher likelihood of developing kidney failure.

“Our research highlights the link between the gut and the kidneys,” Dr. Kovesdy said. “Constipated patients may have alterations in their gut microbiome that predispose them to damaging metabolic effects, such as inflammation, which could induce long-term kidney damage. More research is needed to determine if treatment of constipation could help prevent the development of CKD, or slow progressive loss of kidney function in those with established kidney disease.”

The JASN is the leading kidney journal in the world. To read more: https://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/early/2016/11/09/ASN.2016060656.abstract