Many of the >2 million animal species that inhabit Earth have developed survival mechanisms that aid in the prevention of obesity, kidney disease, starvation, dehydration and vascular ageing; however, some animals remain susceptible to these complications. Domestic and captive wild felids, for example, show susceptibility to chronic kidney disease (CKD), potentially linked to the high protein intake of these animals. By contrast, naked mole rats are a model of longevity and are protected from extreme environmental conditions through mechanisms that provide resistance to oxidative stress. Biomimetic studies suggest that the transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) offers protection in extreme environmental conditions and promotes longevity in the animal kingdom. Similarly, during months of fasting, immobilization and anuria, hibernating bears are protected from muscle wasting, azotaemia, thrombotic complications, organ damage and osteoporosis-features that are often associated with CKD. Improved understanding of the susceptibility and protective mechanisms of these animals and others could provide insights into novel strategies to prevent and treat several human diseases, such as CKD and ageing-associated complications. An integrated collaboration between nephrologists and experts from other fields, such as veterinarians, zoologists, biologists, anthropologists and ecologists, could introduce a novel approach for improving human health and help nephrologists to find novel treatment strategies for CKD.
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