, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 1957-1965
Date: 08 Feb 2011

Microalbuminuria: causes and implications

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Management strategies are increasingly focused on tackling the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Microalbuminuria is a powerful predictor of cardiovascular disease and mortality in adults. This holds true in the general adult population but is particularly recognized in those with diabetes, where it identifies those likely to develop progressive atherosclerotic vascular disease and renal impairment. The atherosclerotic process begins in childhood with likely consequences in later life. In-depth understanding of the mechanisms through which microalbuminuria occurs holds promise for designing therapies to arrest its development in the future. Microalbuminuria arises from increased leakage of albumin through the complex glomerular sieve known as the glomerular filtration barrier. This requires changes in the physio-chemical properties of components of this barrier. However, the increased glomerular permeability confirmed in disease does not necessarily correlate with recognized histological changes in the glomerulus, suggesting that perhaps more subtle ultrastructural changes may be relevant. The epidemiology of microalbuminuria reveals a close association between systemic endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease, also implicating glomerular endothelial dysfunction in microalbuminuria. This review discusses the mechanisms of microalbuminuria in disease, particularly the emerging role of the glomerular endothelium and its glycocalyx, and examines its implications for cardiovascular disease in the pediatric population.