According to Greek mythology, Klotho was a goddess who was responsible for spinning the thread of life. It was up to her to decide when people were born, when and who should die, and who should be spared. As no is coincidence, the human gene that shares her name also holds the key to age and life expansion.
The Klotho gene was originally identified as a potential age-suppressing gene in mice, one that could extend their lifespans when it was overexpressed.
There are two types of Klotho protein; the membrane-bound Klotho and a secreted “soluble Klotho,” that circulates through the blood.
In past studies, the gene has been shown to effectively regulate some metabolic processes, and others have uncovered a direct link between mineral metabolism and aging. However, here is where it gets interesting – patients with kidney disease tend to have low levels of soluble Klotho since the protein is primarily expressed in the kidney.
Chronic kidney disease is a condition that is characterized by the kidney’s inability to filter blood properly. This illness affects more than 20 million people in the United States alone – which is a staggering 10 percent of the country.
However, new research points to the circulating Klotho protein as being responsible for kidney function decline.
Dr. David Drew from Tufts Medical Centre led a team of researchers to examine and analyze the link between soluble Klotho and kidney function, and their findings published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
The results? Researchers found a strong link between soluble Klotho and kidney function decline.
There was a total of 2,496 participants, of which 16 percent experienced a 30 percent decrease in kidney function, whereas 28 percent had an absolute decline greater than 3 milliliters per minute per year.
Specifically, it was found that for each two-fold higher level of Klotho, scientists discovers a 20 percent lower risk of kidney function decline at follow-up appointments. These results remain unchanged when adjusted for all variables.
“We found a strong association between low soluble Klotho and decline in kidney function, independent of many known risk factors for kidney function decline. This suggests that Klotho could play a role in the development of chronic kidney disease, although additional research will need to confirm this. This also raises the possibility that Klotho could be an important therapeutic target for future clinical trials,” says Dr. Drew.