Semaglutide use tied to lower kidney disease risk in obesity

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Semaglutide drug use were linked to better kidney Health in people with obesity and established heart disease in a new study. Image credit: Iuliia Burmistrova/Getty Images.
  • Both obesity and cardiovascular disease can increase a person’s risk of developing kidney disease.
  • A recent study found that semaglutide may help reduce the progression of kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • A new study from researchers at the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom, says semaglutide may also help protect kidney function in people who are overweight or obese with established cardiovascular disease.

Previous research shows that both Health">obesity and Health">cardiovascular disease can raise a person’s risk of developing kidney disease.

A recently published study found that semaglutide— the active ingredient in glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist medications Ozempic and Wegovy — may help reduce the progression of kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

Now, research recently presented at the 61st European Renal Association Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, reports semaglutide may also help protect kidney function in people who have overweight or obesity and also have established cardiovascular disease.

The research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Researchers examined how semaglutide might impact a person’s estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), which measures how much waste and excess water the kidneys filter out of the blood through urine.

Participants receiving semaglutide had a significantly lower decline in eGFR than those in the placebo group, indicating semaglutide’s potential kidney function protection in people with pre-existing kidney impairment.

The scientists also looked at how semaglutide affected participants’ urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR). UACR measures the ratio of the protein albumin to waste product creatinine in the urine, which helps doctors determine if a person has albuminuria, which can be a sign of kidney issues.

In participants using semaglutide, compared to baseline measurements researchers reported an average 8.1% decrease in UACR with those with normal albumin levels, a 27.2% decrease in those with microalbuminuria, and a 31.4% decrease in those with macroalbuminuria compared to those receiving the placebo.

“The observed benefits in eGFR and UACR are particularly encouraging, suggesting potential for the enhanced management of kidney complications in the patient population with overweight and obesity without diabetes,” Colhoun said in the press release.

“The findings also underscore the importance of continued research into the possible renal benefits of semaglutide and highlight its role as a promising therapeutic option in the multifaceted management of cardiovascular and renal health in this high-risk population,” she added.

Chen said it is important for researchers to continue to find new ways of protecting kidney function in people who are obese with heart disease because kidney disease has significant morbidity and mortality in the United States.

“So any treatments we have to slow the progression of kidney disease have the potential to benefit a large portion of the American population,” he continued.

“It is encouraging to see that semaglutide — an important medication that has been shown to be beneficial in patients with diabetes, as well as patients with obesity — has the capability of slowing [the] progression of kidney disease as well,” commented Chen.

“Future longer-term research [should] look to see if this benefit to kidney function will extend out to prevent poor kidney outcomes such as initiation of dialysis or even kidney transplant,” he advised.

Ali said that through future research, it would be interesting to see if this improvement in kidney function through the use of semaglutide is independent of weight loss.

“There was a recent study looking at cardiovascular health and they found that semaglutide improves cardiovascular health, independent of weight loss,” he told us. “So even if patients didn’t lose a lot of weight, their cardiovascular health improved with [the] use of semaglutide.”

“The theory is it has a reduction in inflammation, so it would be interesting to see if that’s also true for the kidneys — is that improvement in kidney function or protection of the kidneys independent of the weight loss or is it directly related to the weight loss?” Ali added.

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