UL Researcher awarded €330K for new research into Acute Kidney Injury

It is estimated that at least 1 in 5 hospitalised adults develop Acute Kidney Injury (AKI). Emerging evidence suggests that AKI: is under-recognised in clinical practice; predicts an accelerated risk of end-stage kidney disease (ESKD), and may be a risk amplifier for many other chronic diseases with death rates in excess of 20%.

Professor Austin Stack, Foundation Chair of Medicine, University Hospital Limerick, Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick has been awarded €330,000 funding by the Health Research Board (HRB) to improve our understanding of Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), a condition in which there is rapid decline in kidney function, often without signs or symptoms. His project is one of 36 new research projects selected from 190 to benefit from an investment of €13.5 million by the HRB over the next three – five years.

Professor Stack explains; “Despite the high frequency of this potentially lethal condition, there is very little is known in Ireland regarding the size of the problem, its management and consequences. In Ireland, we estimate that between 2-20% of patients will develop an AKI episode which may lead to serious consequences including progression to kidney failure and death. Our preliminary data would suggest that while the majority will recover from an AKI event, a large percentage, upwards of 17-20% do not thereby putting patients at higher risk of kidney failure and death. For some patients, who develop a very severe AKI, they may progress rapidly to kidney failure and require dialysis. For others, who recover, we are unclear to what extent and whether the lack of complete recovery will lead to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and kidney failure, down the line.”

“It is vital that we have a full understanding of the size and impact of AKI in this Irish population and so that we plan effective preventive strategies. A particular focus of this research is to evaluate the quality of care following and AKI event in order to assess the rates of recovery and the extent to which the lack of recovery is associated with longer term outcomes” said Professor Stack who gave an oral presentation on this initiative at the American Society of Nephrology in Philadelphia, USA on Nov 15th 2014.

Professor Stack added: “We are delighted to accept this 3-year HRB Award, which will provide our team with the opportunity to conduct a detailed evaluation of the epidemiology of AKI, the first study of its kind in Ireland. Our goal is to improve our understanding of AKI by creating a large registry of patients from within the Irish Health System in order to track the frequency and outcomes of AKI. Better understanding of this complex illness will help inform national policy on prevention efforts and management practices.”

Graham Love, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board says; “The HRB focuses on driving more research into policy and practice. This is illustrated by our investment in these Health Research Awards. Innovation can help bridge the gap between demand for health services and the resources to pay for them. That innovation comes from implementing top class research, which is our raison d'être at the HRB.”

About the UL Kidney Health Consortium

Professor Stack leads the UL Kidney Health Consortium at University Hospital Limerick and the Graduate Entry Medical School. This interdisciplinary team brings together expertise in kidney disease, epidemiology, statistics and information systems. The consortium is leading a number of national and international studies to improve the outcomes for patients with kidney diseases and is collaborating with investigators from the School of Medicine at University College Dublin, University College Cork, and the University of Michigan in the USA.

About Acute Kidney Injury
1. Acute Kidney Injury is common affecting 10-20% of hospitalised patients
2. The incidence increases with advancing age and those with certain chronic medical conditions
3. It is associated with higher rates of kidney failure and death
4. Early detection and treatment can prevent or modify complications
Acute Kidney Injury (AKI), previously called acute renal failure, occurs when kidney function deteriorates rapidly
over hours or days and elevated levels of waste products accumulate in the blood. AKI is most common in
people who are hospitalized, particularly in critically ill people who need intensive care. AKI may occur in multiple settings and may vary in its severity and duration. It is increasingly recognised that a diagnosis of AKI may in the long-term lead to a higher risk of kidney failure or death.

Patterns of Recovery from Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) and risk of Kidney Disease Progression in the Irish Population (Abstract 2709) ¹Austin G Stack, ²Els H Gillis, ¹²Mohamed Elsayed, ¹Hoang T Nguyen, ¹Ailish Hannigan, ³Patrick T. Murray, Howard Johnson, ¹²Liam F. Casserly and ¹John P Ferguson ¹Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick, Limerick ²Department of Nephrology, University Hospital Limerick ³University College Dublin, 4Health Intelligence HSE, Dublin Ireland