Working Group of Nephrology and Intensiv Care Medicine

Group Leader: Felix Knauf

The kidney is a primary target for crystals because of its role in filtering and eliminating various substances via the urine. As poorly soluble molecules and waste salts are being concentrated in the course of urine formation, crystals can build and deposit within the renal tubules and interstitium resulting in kidney failure.

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The kidney is a primary target for crystals because of its role in filtering and eliminating various substances via the urine. As poorly soluble molecules and waste salts are being concentrated in the course of urine formation, crystals can build and deposit within the renal tubules and interstitium resulting in kidney failure. The composition of crystals varies based on whether they are introduced as drugs (e.g. methotrexate, sufadiazine or indinavir) or endogenous to the body (e.g. light chain crystalline nephropathy or uric acid nephropathy). Our laboratory primarily focuses on oxalate, the most common component of urinary crystals in humans.

Recent research including our own work has pointed to an important role of the innate immune system in crystal-induced inflammation and kidney failure. Our highly interdisciplinary investigations stretch from transport physiology studies, biophysics to animal models. In addition, our work bridges the gap between basic research and human studies by examining our hypothesis in patients with chronic kidney disease (German Chronic Kidney Disease Study). In 2018, we have initiated two clinical studies investigating the role of an oxalate-degrading enzyme in patients with enteric hyperoxaluria.

Our laboratory is working closely with investigators at Yale University (USA) and University College London (Great Britain). In 2015 our department has received close to 1 Million Euro funding for the TRENAL network. The goal of this network is to promote exchange between these institutions and support research efforts for medical students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty interested in basic and clinical research. Students, researchers and clinicians interested in our work are welcome to contact our laboratory or our website TRENAL.