Hyperfiltration and diabetic nephropathy: is it the beginning? Or is it the end?

P Castellino, J Shohat, R A DeFronzo
Seminars in Nephrology 1990, 10 (3): 228-41
At present the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy remains unresolved. Clearly lack of insulin, with its associated disorders of carbohydrate, protein, and/or lipid metabolism, initiates the process which eventually leads to the characteristic histologic picture of diabetic nephropathy. The disturbance in cellular metabolism per se could directly injure the kidney by altering the energy needs of the cell or by leading to the accumulation of cellular toxins (ie, polyols) or by causing the deficiency of key cellular metabolites (ie, myoinositol). Elevation of the plasma glucose concentration enhances the glycosylation of proteins, which in turn can lead to glomerular basement membrane thickening, loss of charge selectivity, and direct cellular damage. The multiple disturbances in intermediary metabolism are associated with increased levels of and/or enhanced sensitivity to a variety of growth factors, including IGF-I and angiotensin, and this could lead to glomerular hypertrophy. An increase in the filtered load and subsequent reabsorption of electrolytes and metabolites also could contribute to renal hypertrophy. In all animal models of nephropathy, including diabetes, glomerular hypertrophy has been shown to be the best correlate of glomerular sclerosis, proteinuria, and progressive renal deterioration. The potential mechanisms by which glomerular hypertrophy can lead to renal histologic damage were discussed previously. By increasing the luminal diameter, glomerular hypertrophy also would be expected to augment wall tension and thereby increase intraglomerular pressure. Derangements in cellular metabolism or altered sensitivity to angiotensin also can directly elevate the intraglomerular pressure and lead to structural renal damage. In this schema, elevated intraglomerular pressure is but one of many pathogenic factors that contribute to the development of diabetic glomerulopathy and albuminuria. The precise role of increased glomerular pressure in the evolution of diabetic nephropathy remains uncertain at present. In rats, severe diabetic nephropathy can occur without an increase in Pgc, while in humans, hyperfiltration does not appear to be a predictor of proteinuria and renal dysfunction. Lastly, it is likely that a variety of other factors, including the coagulation system, plasma/cell lipid levels, prostaglandins, etc, also play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. According to the outline presented in Figure 1, it is unlikely that any single factor will be sufficient to explain the development of diabetic glomerulosclerosis. Ultimately, the origin of diabetic nephropathy in IDDM must be traced to insulin lack, with its associated derangements in cellular metabolism. Therefore, the importance of tight glucose control should not be underemphasized.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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