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NIH awards $1.7 million to UTA professor to fight chronic kidney disease

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A University of Texas at Arlington kinesiology professor has received a $1.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to find a solution for thwarting cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Paul Fadel, director of clinical translational science for the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, will use the four-year grant to try to develop a treatment to lower sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in patients with chronic kidney disease. High sympathetic nerve activity contributes to hypertension and other deleterious consequences, Fadel said.

More than 26 million American adults have kidney disease, according to the National Kidney Foundation. About 47,000 Americans died of kidney disease in 2013, according to the foundation. Improving health and the human condition is one of the four core themes of UTA's Strategic Plan 2020: Bold Solutions | Global Impact.

Anne Bavier, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, called Fadel's newest grant a shot in the arm that will accelerated health science research under the strategic plan.

"One in three American adults is at risk for developing kidney disease," Bavier said. "These numbers will go up as our population ages because being over 60 is a risk factor for developing kidney disease. The outcome of Paul's work could go a long way toward putting a dent in this problem."

Fadel, a prominent integrative physiology researcher and expert in neural cardio-vascular control in health and disease, joined the College in fall 2015 from the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Under a separate $376,000 NIH grant, he is working with Kinesiology Department chair and professor David Keller to investigate inherent differences between blacks and whites in blood pressure regulation both during rest and exercise.

Fadel said that contrary to popular belief, most people with kidney disease actually die of cardiovascular disease.

"A big part of that is hypertension," he said, adding that when blood pressure increases it becomes injurious to the kidney.

High sympathetic nerve activity can also lead to cardiac and renal dysfunction independent of elevations in blood pressure.

"We know that patients with chronic kidney disease have high sympathetic nerve activity, but we don't know why," he said. "The purpose of this grant is to help us find out why they have high sympathetic nerve activity. We have designed protocols that will probe the role of asymmetric dimethylarginine, or ADMA, a natural occurring chemical in the body.

"When ADMA is high, we think it causes elevated sympathetic nerve activity," he said. "ADMA inhibits production of nitric oxide, which inhibits sympathetic nerve activity in the brainstem. If you have more nitric oxide, you will have lower sympathetic nerve activity."

Fadel noted that there are five stages of kidney function.

"Stage one is healthy," he said. "Stage five puts you on dialysis. We are studying patients in stages three and four. Our hope is to figure out a treatment and come up with a therapy that will lower their sympathetic nerve activity, improve their outcomes and prevent them from moving on to dialysis."

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About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie "highest research activity" institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at http://www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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