Diabetes and chronic kidney disease: lessons from the Pima Indians
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Although diabetic nephropathy is a very rare cause of kidney failure during childhood, the underlying events leading to progressive kidney injury begin during childhood in many patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) and in increasing numbers of children with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The Pima Indians of Arizona represent an exceptionally thoroughly studied population suffering from very high rates of T2DM and diabetic nephropathy (T2DN). This population well illustrates the often inexorable progression from glomerular hyperfiltration to microalbuminuria to overt proteinuria and loss of glomerular filtration rate (GFR), paralleled by the accumulation of mesangial matrix and basement membrane, glomerular hypertrophy, loss of podocytes and eventual glomerular sclerosis and interstitial fibrosis. Structural changes quantitatively account for the loss of GFR in T2DN. The mechanism of albuminuria (and its relationship to GFR loss) is much less clear. There is strong functional and structural evidence for defects in glomerular size-selectivity (shunts) due to podocyte pathology, but only beginning at relatively high levels of proteinuria (albumin/creatinine ratios > 3000 mg/g). Podocyte loss accompanies, and may underlie, the loss of glomeruli to sclerosis. At this point, most evidence in humans suggests detachment of intact podocytes from the glomerular basement membrane, rather than apoptosis, as the predominant mechanism of podocyte loss.