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Diabetes mellitus and the kidney 

Diabetes mellitus and the kidney
Diabetes mellitus and the kidney

Rudolf Bilous

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date: 07 March 2021

Diabetic nephropathy is the commonest cause of endstage renal disease in the developed world. Aetiology and pathology—causation is related to glycaemic control, hypertension, inflammation, genetic factors, and dietary and other environmental factors. Pathological hallmarks in the glomerulus are thickening of the glomerular basement membrane and mesangial expansion, with or without nodule formation, secondary to an accumulation of extracellular matrix. Many patients have a varying severity of tubulointerstitial inflammation and fibrosis. Staging and natural history—is classically described in terms of urinary albumin excretion rate (UAER). Clinical features—most patients (>60%) will have a normal UAER throughout their diabetic life, but 1 to 2% of the remainder develop persistent moderately increased albuminuria each year. Once UAER exceeds 200 µg/min, there tends to be a relentless increase in proteinuria and glomerular filtration rate declines progressively at a rate that largely depends upon blood pressure control. Prevention—tight glycaemic control can prevent moderately increased albuminuria in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Whether intensive blood pressure control using angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can also prevent this remains controversial. In both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, intensive blood pressure control using ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) slows progression from moderately to severely increased albuminuria and also slows the rate of decline in glomerular filtration rate in those with severely increased albuminuria. Management—aims for (1) control of glycaemia, (2) control of hypertension (<130/80 mmHg) using an ACE inhibitor or an ARB as first line; and (3) other interventions, including some or all of serum lipid lowering, smoking cessation, and reduction of dietary protein and salt.

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