Background: Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a severe complication of diabetes that affects the kidneys. Disulfidptosis, a newly defined type of programmed cell death, has emerged as a potential area of interest, yet its significance in DN remains unexplored.

Methods: This study utilized single-cell sequencing data GSE131882 from GEO database combined with bulk transcriptome sequencing data GSE30122, GSE30528 and GSE30529 to investigate disulfidptosis in DN. Single-cell sequencing analysis was performed on samples from DN patients and healthy controls, focusing on cell heterogeneity and communication. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) and gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) were employed to identify disulfidptosis-related gene sets and pathways. A diagnostic model was constructed using machine learning techniques based on identified genes, and immunocorrelation analysis was conducted to explore the relationship between key genes and immune cells. PCR validation was performed on blood samples from DN patients and healthy controls.

Results: The study revealed significant disulfidptosis heterogeneity and cell communication differences in DN. Specific targets related to disulfidptosis were identified, providing insights into the pathogenesis of DN. The diagnostic model demonstrated high accuracy in distinguishing DN from healthy samples across multiple datasets. Immunocorrelation analysis highlighted the complex interactions between immune cells and key disulfidptosis-related genes. PCR validation supported the differential expression of model genes VEGFA, MAGI2, THSD7A and ANKRD28 in DN.

Conclusion: This research advances our understanding of DN by highlighting the role of disulfidptosis and identifying potential biomarkers for early detection and personalized treatment.