Background: The purpose of this study was to describe changes over time in albuminuria and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in a cohort of Australian Aborigines from a community with high rates of renal disease and renal failure.
Methods: Participants were 486 adult community members (20+ years at first exam) who were screened for renal disease and related factors on at least two occasions (mean 2.7 occasions), at least a year apart, between 1990 and 1997. Renal function was assessed by the albumin:creatinine ratio (ACR; g/mol) on a random urine specimen and by the GFR estimated from the Cockcroft-Gault formula. Evolution over time was expressed as the average annual changes in these parameters.
Results: On baseline examination, 70% of participants had albuminuria (ACR 1.1+ g/mol) There was a significant net increase in ACR and a fall in GFR in the cohort over time. Among individuals, however, changes were strongly correlated with ACR levels at baseline. There was no loss of GFR in persons with normal renal parameters at baseline and a rapid loss of GFR in those with substantial levels of albuminuria at baseline. Other factors significantly correlated with progression of ACR included age, baseline body mass index and systolic blood pressure, the presence of diabetes (or levels of fasting glucose), and elevated levels of serum gamma glutamyl transferase. Factors significantly associated with loss of GFR included body mass index, diabetes, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, microscopic hematuria, and marginally high cholesterol levels.
Conclusion: Albuminuria progresses and GFR is lost over time in individuals in this community, at rates that are strongly dependent on levels of pre-existing albuminuria. Much loss of GFR and all renal failure should be avoided by preventing the development of albuminuria and minimizing its progression. This depends on improving the weight, blood pressure, and metabolic profile of the entire community and reducing infections. Modification of the course in people with established disease depends on vigorous control of blood pressure and the metabolic profile and the specific use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors.