Iraqi-born immigrants residing in Sweden exhibit lower blood pressure as well as better renal function despite an overall worse metabolic risk profile in comparison with native Swedes. This may indicate the presence of cardiorenal protective mechanisms in the Middle Eastern population. Hence, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the association between renal function and Pro-Enkephalin (PENK), a biomarker predictive of both acute and chronic kidney dysfunction, differs across ethnicities. The MEDIM population-based study including a cohort of women and men, born in Iraq or Sweden, aged 30–75 years was conducted in Malmö, Sweden, from 2010 to 2012. The study included fasting blood samples, physical examinations and self-administrated questionnaires. Despite significantly better renal function assessed by creatinine-based eGFR in the Iraqi group, levels of PENK did not differ between the groups, (70.0 pmol/L, born in Iraq (n = 1263) vs 71.1, born in Sweden (n = 689), p =.4). However, the association between PENK and renal function was relatively weaker in the Iraqi born group, as supported by a significant interaction between PENK and country of birth (P Interaction= Country of birth x PENK = 0,010). This observational study suggests that the association between renal function and PENK was weaker in Middle Eastern immigrants. This is of interest as PENK may exhibit a direct effect on renal function, however further research is needed including studies on causality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-578
JournalScandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation
Issue number7
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Free keywords

  • Biomarkers
  • blood pressure
  • ethnic groups
  • glomerular filtration rate
  • kidney function tests


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