On glomerular structural alterations in type-1 diabetes. Companions of early diabetic glomerulopathy

Virchows Arch. 2001 Feb;438(2):129-35. doi: 10.1007/s004280000311.


Glomerular structural modifications were measured in kidney biopsies from two follow-up studies in type-1 diabetic patients with microalbuminuria and in kidney donors. Stereologic methods were used to obtain data on glomerular composition and absolute quantities per glomerulus to supplement data on diabetic glomerulopathy previously published. Diabetic patients at baseline (n=37) showed significant changes compared with controls (n=11). The volume fraction of tuft/glomerulus was increased, the proportion of capillary surface facing peripheral basement membrane was decreased (0.72+/-0.04 vs 0.77+/-0.03, P=0.0008), the ratio of mesangial surfaces, urinary/capillary, was decreased (0.67+/-0.17 vs 1.11+/-0.28, P<10(-4)), and the average capillary diameter was increased (8.9+/-0.9 microm vs 7.5+/-1.0 microm, P=0.0002). The total volume of mesangial extracellular material per glomerulus was increased (P=0.01), whereas glomerular volume was not significantly different from controls. Follow-up biopsies after antihypertensive treatment with ACE-inhibitor (n=7) or beta-blocker (n=6; 36-48 months) and after intensive insulin treatment (n=7; 24-33 months) showed no change. In a conventionally treated group (n=9), the glomerular volume, the volume of extracellular material/glomerulus, and the capillary length increased. The mean capillary diameter did not correlate with the glomerular volume. In conclusion, the development of diabetic glomerulopathy entails structural modifications of the glomerular tuft. Antihypertensive and intensified insulin treatment seem to slow the progression of ultrastructural changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuminuria
  • Capillaries / diagnostic imaging
  • Capillaries / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology*
  • Enalapril / therapeutic use
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Kidney Glomerulus / blood supply
  • Kidney Glomerulus / metabolism
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography


  • Insulin
  • Enalapril
  • Metoprolol