Chronic kidney diseases of uncertain etiology (CKDue) in Sri Lanka: geographic distribution and environmental implications

Rohana Chandrajith,  Shanika Nanayakkara,  Kozuyoshi Itai, 
T. N. C. Aturaliya, C. B. Dissanayake,  Thilak Abeysekera, 
Kouji Harada,  Takao Watanabe,  Akio Koizumi


The increase in the number of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients from the north central region of Sri Lanka has become a environmental health issue of national concern. Unlike in other countries where long-standing diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of renal diseases, the majority of CKD patients from this part of Sri Lanka do not show any identifiable cause. As the disease is restricted to a remarkably specific geographical terrain, particularly in the north central dry zone of the country, multidisciplinary in-depth research studies are required to identify possible etiologies and risk factors. During this study, population screening in the prevalent region and outside the region, analysis of geoenvironmental and biochemical samples were carried out. Population screening that was carried out using a multistage sampling technique indicated that the point prevalence of CKD with uncertain etiology is about 2-3% among those above 18 years of age. Drinking water collected from high-prevalent and non-endemic regions was analyzed for their trace and ultratrace element contents, including the nephrotoxic heavy metals Cd and U using ICP-MS. The results indicate that the affected regions contain moderate to high levels of fluoride. The Cd contents in drinking water, rice from affected regions and urine from symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients were much lower indicating that Cd is not a contributing factor for CKD with uncertain etiology in Sri Lanka. Although no single geochemical parameter could be clearly and directly related to the CKD etiology on the basis of the elements determined during this study, it is very likely that the unique hydrogeochemistry of the drinking water is closely associated with the incidence of the disease.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD), Fluoride, Cadmium, Groundwater

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