Department of Internal Medicine


Through integration of basic research and clinical research, we aim to develop new therapeutic options for patients with kidney disease, improving prognosis and quality of life
  • Role of autophagy in the kidney: from bench to bed-side
  • CKD-MBD: Linking kidney disease and abnormal bone mineral metabolism via basic and clinical research
  • Large scale epidemiological research on kidney disease and development of analytical applications
Professor Yoshitaka Isaka
The department of nephrology and the first laboratory dedicated to kidney research were established in 1960 by Professor Hiroshi Abe. It has been reorganized several times, most recently in 2005 by Professor Toshio Ogihara.

Basic and clinical research on kidney diseases focusing on autophagy, CKD-MBD and large-scale epidemiological studies


Autophagy is one of the mechanisms by which intracellular proteins and organelles are destroyed within a cell. Renal tubules are anatomical structures within a kidney known to show active autophagy. Using genetically modified mice, we have previously shown that autophagy plays an important role in the steady state and under various stress conditions in renal tubules. In recent years autophagy has been shown to be involved in a variety of conditions ranging from aging to dyslipidemia and diabetes. We furthermore showed that stagnation of autophagy that should be enhanced contributes to the deterioration of lesions in the kidney, making us believe that it will be possible to treat kidney disease by altering levels of autophagy via pharmacologically active compounds, which ultimately could be used in the clinical setting towards therapeutic application.

Figure 1


Our group was one of the first in the world to study Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and Chronic Kidney Disease-Mineral and Bone Disorder (CKD-MBD) via assessment of the calcium and phosphorus metabolism and vascular calcifications. Currently, our basic and clinical research groups are working together to elucidate the underlying mechanisms associated with CKD and CKD-MBD. For example we found that abnormalities in the bone mineral metabolism are deeply involved in the pathogenesis and progression of kidney disease and renal failure. Besides elucidating the pathophysiology of kidney disease and renal failure related diseases based on CKD-MBD, we are also actively working on the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutic approaches.

Figure 2


Furthermore, our epidemiology research group collaborates with the University Health Center and various other facilities in order to clarify how lifestyle and medication affect the onset and progression of CKD using advanced epidemiological methods and large sets of data from hundreds of thousands of CDK patients provided by medical examiners and general practitioners. In order to facilitate large-scale epidemiological studies, we are also developing online tools and applications, which enable the creation of cohort research data sheets from electronic medical records. Finally, we are actively engaged in educational activities through journal clubs and seminar for nephrologist trainees.