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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 Oct 9;9(10):e0004105. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004105. eCollection 2015.

Overlooked Risk for Chronic Kidney Disease after Leptospiral Infection: A Population-Based Survey and Epidemiological Cohort Evidence.

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Kidney Research Center, Department of Nephrology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan; Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.
Kidney Research Center, Department of Nephrology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Department of Family Medicine, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.



Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonosis. Chronic human infection and asymptomatic colonization have been reported. However, renal involvement in those with leptospira chronic exposure remains undetermined.


In 2007, a multistage sampling survey for chronic kidney disease (CKD) was conducted in a southern county of Taiwan, an area with a high prevalence of dialysis. Additionally, an independent cohort of 88 participants from a leptospira-endemic town was followed for two years after a flooding in 2009. Risks of CKD, stages of CKD, associated risk factors as well as kidney injury markers were compared among adults with anti-leptospira antibody as defined by titers of microscopic agglutination test (MAT). Of 3045 survey participants, the individuals with previous leptospira exposure disclosed a lower level of eGFR (98.3 ± 0.4 vs 100.8 ± 0.6 ml/min per 1.73 m2, P < 0.001) and a higher percentage of CKD, particularly at stage 3a-5 (14.4% vs 8.5%), than those without leptospira exposure. Multivariable linear regression analyses indicated the association of leptospiral infection and lower eGFR (95% CI -4.15 to -1.93, P < 0.001). In a leptospiral endemic town, subjects with a MAT titer ≥ 400 showed a decreased eGFR and higher urinary kidney injury molecule-1 creatinine ratio (KIM1/Cr) level as compared with those having lower titers of MAT (P < 0.05). Furthermore, two participants with persistently high MAT titers had positive urine leptospira DNA and deteriorating renal function.


Our data are the first to show that chronic human exposure of leptospirosis is associated significantly with prevalence and severity of CKD and may lead to deterioration of renal function. This study also shed light on the search of underlying factors in areas experiencing CKD of unknown aetiology (CKDu) such as Mesoamerican Nephropathy.

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