SuPAR mediates viral response proteinuria by rapidly changing podocyte function

Michigan Medicine COVID−19 Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Elevation in soluble urokinase receptor (suPAR) and proteinuria are common signs in patients with moderate to severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Here we characterize a new type of proteinuria originating as part of a viral response. Inoculation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes increased suPAR levels and glomerulopathy in African green monkeys. Using an engineered mouse model with high suPAR expression, inhaled variants of SARS-CoV-2 spike S1 protein elicite proteinuria that could be blocked by either suPAR antibody or SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. In a cohort of 1991 COVID-19 patients, suPAR levels exhibit a stepwise association with proteinuria in non-Omicron, but not in Omicron infections, supporting our findings of biophysical and functional differences between variants of SARS-CoV-2 spike S1 protein and their binding to podocyte integrins. These insights are not limited to SARS-CoV-2 and define viral response proteinuria (VRP) as an innate immune mechanism and co-activation of podocyte integrins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4414
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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