Recommendations for the management of special populations: renal disease in diabetes

Leopoldo Raij
American Journal of Hypertension 2003, 16 (11 Pt 2): 46S-49S
During the past decade, the incidence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) has risen dramatically, primarily due to an increase in the incidence of diabetes. In patients with diabetes, both hyperglycemia and hypertension are independent risk factors for renal disease. Hypertension is also a risk factor in nondiabetic renal disease and contributes to renal dysfunction by increasing glomerular pressure, glomerular capillary damage, and proteinuria. The resultant nephron damage increases glomerular pressure and damage within remnant functional nephrons, further contributing to deterioration of renal function. In addition to its role in systemic hypertension, angiotensin II has direct effects on the kidney through elevation of glomerular capillary pressure and upregulation of components of the renal injury response. These direct effects of angiotensin II on the kidney support the inclusion of agents that target the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) into treatment regimens for patients at risk for renal disease. Several clinical trials have established the benefits of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) in patients with diabetes. The ACE inhibitors have been shown to delay renal decline in patients with type 1 diabetes, whereas the renoprotective effect of these agents in patients with type 2 diabetes is less clear. The ARBs have been shown to provide significant benefits in patients with type 2 diabetes, both at early (microalbuminuria) and late (proteinuria) stages of renal decline. In the Irbesartan Diabetic Nephropathy Trial (IDNT) and the Reduction of Endpoints in NIDDM with the Angiotensin II Antagonist Losartan (RENAAL) study, ARB therapy significantly reduced the progression of overt nephropathy (composite of doubling of serum creatinine, ESRD, and death), a benefit that has not been shown for ACE inhibitors. Moreover, in RENAAL, losartan significantly reduced the incidence of the individual end point of ESRD. The benefits of ARB therapy in IDNT and RENAAL were associated with significant reductions in proteinuria and were independent of blood pressure reductions. In RENAAL, proteinuria was a strong predictor of both renal and cardiovascular events. These findings underscore the importance of RAS blockade as a strategy for improving clinical outcomes in patients with renal disease.

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