Ortiz et al. Nefrologia. 2022;42(1):65-84. CKD: The burden of disease invisible to research funders.


CKD: The burden of disease invisible to research funders.


The uptake of the current concept of chronic kidney disease (CKD) by the public, physicians and health authorities is low. Physicians still mix up CKD with chronic kidney insufficiency or failure. In a recent manuscript, only 23% of participants in a cohort of persons with CKD had been diagnosed by their physicians as having CKD while 29% has a diagnosis of cancer and 82% had a diagnosis of hypertension. For the wider public and health authorities, CKD evokes kidney replacement therapy (KRT). In Spain, the prevalence of KRT is 0.13%. A prevalent view is that for those in whom kidneys fail, the problem is "solved" by dialysis or kidney transplantation. However, the main burden of CKD is accelerated aging and all-cause and cardiovascular premature death. CKD is the most prevalent risk factor for lethal COVID-19 and the factor that most increases the risk of death in COVID-19, after old age. Moreover, men and women undergoing KRT still have an annual mortality which is 10-100-fold higher than similar age peers, and life expectancy is shortened by around 40 years for young persons on dialysis and by 15 years for young persons with a functioning kidney graft. CKD is expected to become the fifth global cause of death by 2040 and the second cause of death in Spain before the end of the century, a time when 1 in 4 Spaniards will have CKD. However, by 2022, CKD will become the only top-15 global predicted cause of death that is not supported by a dedicated well-funded CIBER network research structure in Spain. Leading Spanish kidney researchers grouped in the kidney collaborative research network REDINREN have now applied for the RICORS call of collaborative research in Spain with the support of the Spanish Society of Nephrology, ALCER and ONT: RICORS2040 aims to prevent the dire predictions for the global 2040 burden of CKD from becoming true. However, only the highest level of research funding through the CIBER will allow to adequately address the issue before it is too late.