Glomerular and tubular proteinuria as markers of nephropathy in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatology (Oxford). 1999 Jan;38(1):28-33. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/38.1.28.


Objective: We examined the prevalence of nephropathy in unselected patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by measurement of marker proteins for glomerular and tubular damage in urine.

Methods: A highly sensitive immunoluminometric assay was used to measure albumin, immunoglobulin G and alpha1-microglobulin in 24 h urines of 44 RA patients and a control group of 46 patients with generalized osteoarthritis (OA).

Results: Fifty-five per cent of RA patients were found to have proteinuria as a symptom of renal disease. Drug therapy or vasculitis were identified as possible reasons for proteinuria in only 25% of these patients; in most patients (75%), no reason for proteinuria was found. Tubular and mixed proteinuria were more frequent than glomerular proteinuria. Only 15% of the control group exhibited mild proteinuria, which was attributable to nephrotoxic factors. The renal function of RA patients and the control group did not differ significantly.

Conclusions: Proteinuria is a frequent symptom of nephropathy in RA. Screening for renal disease in RA should not only include creatinine measurement and dipstick examination of urine, but also more sensitive methods to detect tubular and glomerular proteinuria as a marker of tubular and early stages of glomerular damage.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Albuminuria / urine
  • Alpha-Globulins / urine
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Immunoglobulin G / urine
  • Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Diseases / urine
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology*
  • Kidney Tubules / pathology*
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / complications
  • Osteoarthritis / diagnosis
  • Osteoarthritis / urine
  • Proteinuria / complications
  • Proteinuria / diagnosis*
  • Proteinuria / urine
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Alpha-Globulins
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • alpha-1-microglobulin