Neph-er Forget the Importance of Kidney Research

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World Kidney Day 24 at Don Whitley Scientific

World Kidney Day is an annual worldwide campaign aiming to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD), including preventative action, treatment options and raising money for research [1].

Among the causes of CKD, acute kidney injury (AKI), which is characterised by a sudden decline in renal function, is an area of ongoing research for scientists [2]. AKI itself can be caused by renal ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury, by which the kidneys have been exposed to a period of hypoxia and then reintroduced to normal oxygen levels via blood circulation, which causes aggravation [2].  More specifically, the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the kidney is exacerbated resulting in oxidative stress [2]. Usually, the transcription factor, nuclear factor erythroid factor 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), binds to kelch-like epichlorohydrin-associated protein 1 (Keap1) in the cytoplasm, where it is then tagged for degradation by ubiquitin, but under oxidative stress this interaction is prevented [2]. Instead, Nrf2 translocates into the nucleus where it initiates activation of antioxidants, making this process an ideal target for therapeutic treatment of kidney damage [2].

Having beneficial effects on medical ailments such as muscle pain, anxiety and migraines, the use of essential oils in aromatherapy has become a widely used method of treatment [3][4]. Methyl eugenol is a natural chemical that is found in many essential oils and plants and exhibits therapeutic effects [2]. In 2023, Kuang et al. investigated the effects of methyl eugenol on oxidative damage caused by IR, by exposing renal cells to an atmosphere of 5% carbon dioxide, 1% oxygen and 94% nitrogen for 24 hours in a Whitley H35 Hypoxystation [2]. Renal cells were then exposed to normoxic conditions and further testing was done using various assays to assess Nrf2 activity [2]. Methyl eugenol was found to reduce Nfr2 translocation from the cytoplasm to the nucleus, meaning antioxidant target gene transcription was promoted, thus protecting the kidney from oxidative damage [2].

Don Whitley Scientific H25 Workstation

Whilst some factors make people more susceptible to CKD, age is not a discriminative factor, with previous studies showing over 90% of CKD patients were over 60 years of age but the younger population also falling victim to the debilitating disease [5]. With an aging population, and the desire to help those who are young, progressive research such as that carried out by Kuang et al. gives hope to future treatment development [2].

Want to read more on kidney research? Here’s an article on kidney cancer research: Kidney Cancer Study at the University of Utah - Don Whitley Scientific (

Cell Culture in Hypoxic Isolator

Written by DWS microbiologist Kirsty McTear


  1. Homepage [Internet]. 2024 [cited 2024 Feb 14]. Available from:
  2. Kuang B, Wang Z, Hou S, Zhang J, Wang M, Zhang J, et al. Methyl eugenol protects the kidney from oxidative damage in mice by blocking the Nrf2 nuclear export signal through activation of the AMPK/gsk3β axis. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica. 2022 Jul 6;44(2):367–80. doi:10.1038/s41401-022-00942-2
  3. Yuan R, Zhang D, Yang J, Wu Z, Luo C, Han L, et al. Review of aromatherapy essential oils and their mechanism of action against migraines. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2021 Jan;265:113326. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2020.113326
  4. Mahbubeh Tabatabaeichehr, Hamed Mortazavi. The effectiveness of aromatherapy in the management of Labor Pain and anxiety: A systematic review. Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences. 2020 May 1;30(3). doi:10.4314/ejhs.v30i3.16
  5.  Chronic kidney disease: How common is it? [Internet]. [cited 2024 Feb 14]. Available from:

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