March 2021
Vol 7, Issue 14

About The Cover

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ONLINE COVER As societies have increased their consumption of processed foods in recent decades, microvascular diseases have increased, too, with chronic kidney disease affecting almost 14% of the general population. Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), which are generated from mixtures of amino acids and reducing sugars when food is heat treated to boost its flavor and aroma, are increasingly recognized as disease-causing components of processed foods. However, it has remained unclear how much long-term consumption of processed foods impacts intestinal permeability (potentially enabling bacteria and toxins to enter the blood stream) and microvascular disorders. To better understand the effects of a heat-treated diet, Snelson et al. fed rats either thermally processed or unbaked rodent chow for 24 weeks, finding that the rats fed the heat-treated diet experienced fivefold higher leakage of albumin (a protein that helps keep fluid in the bloodstream) into their urine than controls, indicating kidney damage. Rats on the heat-treated diet also showed additional signs of early chronic kidney disease, including an increase in tubulointerstitial fibrosis and changes to a tuft of capillaries involved in blood filtration. To test whether AGEs were the culprit behind these changes, Snelson et al. administered a drug that contains the AGE pathway inhibitor alagebrium chloride to rats fed the special diet, observing improvements in their kidney injuries and related health problems. [CREDIT: HAPPY LARK/ISTOCK]