Pathophysiological mechanisms by which heat stress potentially induces kidney inflammation and chronic kidney disease in sugarcane workers

Erik Hansson, Jason Glaser, Kristina Jakobsson, Ilana Weiss, Catarina Wesseling, Rebekah A.I. Lucas, Jason Lee Kai Wei, Ulf Ekström, Julia Wijkström, Theo Bodin, Richard J. Johnson, David H. Wegman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


Background: Chronic kidney disease of non-traditional origin (CKDnt) is common among Mesoamerican sugarcane workers. Recurrent heat stress and dehydration is a leading hypothesis. Evidence indicate a key role of inflammation. Methods: Starting in sports and heat pathophysiology literature, we develop a theoretical framework of how strenuous work in heat could induce kidney inflammation. We describe the release of pro-inflammatory substances from a leaky gut and/or injured muscle, alone or in combination with tubular fructose and uric acid, aggravation by reduced renal blood flow and increased tubular metabolic demands. Then, we analyze longitudinal data from >800 sugarcane cutters followed across harvest and review the CKDnt literature to assess empirical support of the theoretical framework. Results: Inflammation (CRP elevation and fever) and hyperuricemia was tightly linked to kidney injury. Rehydrating with sugary liquids and NSAID intake increased the risk of kidney injury, whereas electrolyte solution consumption was protective. Hypokalemia and hypomagnesemia were associated with kidney injury. Discussion: Heat stress, muscle injury, reduced renal blood flow and fructose metabolism may induce kidney inflammation, the successful resolution of which may be impaired by daily repeating pro-inflammatory triggers. We outline further descriptive, experimental and intervention studies addressing the factors identified in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1639
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jun 2

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Acute kidney injury
  • Heat
  • Heat stress
  • Hydration
  • Inflammation
  • Kidney
  • Occupation


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