Genetic variation at selected SNPs in the leptin gene and association of alleles with markers of kidney disease in a Xhosa population of South Africa

BACKGROUND: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a significant public health problem that leads to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) with as many as 2 million people predicted to need therapy worldwide by 2010. Obesity is a risk factor for CKD and leptin, the obesity hormone, correlates with body fat mass and markers of renal function. A number of clinical and experimental studies have suggested a link between serum leptin and kidney disease. We hypothesised that variants in the leptin gene ( LEP ) may be associated with markers of CKD in indigenous black Africans. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Black South Africans of Xhosa (distinct cultural Bantu-speaking population) descent were recruited for the study and four common polymorphisms of the LEP (rs7799039, rs791620, rs2167270 and STS-U43653 [ENSSNP5824596]) were analysed for genotype and haplotype association with urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR), estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), Serum creatinine (Scr) and serum leptin level. In one of the four single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) we examined, an association with the renal phenotypes was observed. Hypertensive subjects with the T allele (CT genotype) of the ENSSNP5824596 SNP had a significantly higher eGFR (p = 0.0141), and significantly lower Scr (p = 0.0137). This was confirmed by haplotype analysis. Also, the haplotype GAAC had a modest effect on urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio in normotensive subjects (p = 0.0482). Conclusions/Significance These results suggest that genetic variations of the LEP may be associated with phenotypes that are markers of CKD in black Africans.