Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is a leading cause of end-stage renal disease. Progressive damage and decline in the number of podocytes often occur in the early stages of DN. Thus, nephrin as a podocyte-specific protein may be regarded as a potential biomarker of early detection of DN. The aim of this study is to determine whether urinary nephrin is an earlier marker in DN than microalbuminuria and to test the significance of urinary nephrin as a marker for early detection of DN.
Our cross-sectional study included 90 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), 30 patients with diagnosed DN and 60 patients without diagnosed DN. As a control group, we used 30 healthy subjects. All patients with T2DM were classified into three subgroups according to urinary microalbumin/creatinine ratio (UMCR): normoalbuminuric, microalbuminuric and macroalbuminuric patients. Nephrin in urine was measured by immunoenzyme assay, microalbumin with turbidimetric and creatinine with the photometric method. In blood sera, we measured a few standard biochemical parameters.
Nephrinuria was found to be present in 100% of patients with T2DM and macroalbuminuria, in 88% with microalbuminuria, as well as 82% of patients with T2DM and normoalbuminuria. A concentration of urinary nephrin was significantly increased in all groups of subjects with T2DM compared to the control group (p<0.05). Nephrinuria correlated statistically negative with eGFR (r=-0.54). ROC analysis showed that nephrin has a total predicted probability of 96% in patients with DN.
Urinary nephrin is earlier, more specific and sensitive marker than microalbumin in early detection of DN.