Evolving strategies for renoprotection: diabetic nephropathy

Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2001 Jul;10(4):515-22. doi: 10.1097/00041552-200107000-00006.


A cumulative incidence of diabetic nephropathy of 25-40% has been documented after duration of diabetes of at least 25 years in both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients. Diabetic nephropathy has become the leading cause (25-44%) of end-stage renal failure in Europe, the United States and Japan. Until the early 1980s, no renoprotective treatment was available for use in diabetic nephropathy. Death occurred on average 5-7 years after the onset of persistent proteinuria. It should be recalled that development of treatment modalities occurred in reverse order: in the early 1980s, antihypertensive treatment of diabetic nephropathy was introduced, and in the early 1990s, primary and secondary prevention with improved glycaemic control and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibition. The two main treatment strategies for primary prevention of diabetic nephropathy are improved glycaemic control and blood pressure lowering, particularly using drugs such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Megatrials and meta-analyses have clearly demonstrated the beneficial effect of both the above-mentioned treatment modalities. Secondary prevention, that is, treatment modalities applied to diabetic patients with high risk of development of diabetic nephropathy (e.g. those with microalbuminuria) has been documented, applying angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in both type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients. Furthermore, improved metabolic control reduces the risk of progression. In special cases (such as pancreas transplantation) even reversal of diabetic glomerular lesions has been documented. Antihypertensive treatment of patients with overt nephropathy induces a reduction in albuminuria, a reduction in the rate of decline of glomerular filtration rate, delays development of end-stage renal failure and improves survival. Many potential treatment modalities in preventing and treating diabetic nephropathy are presently being evaluated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / prevention & control
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / etiology
  • Prognosis


  • Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Antihypertensive Agents