Background: Ischemic nephropathy is an important cause of renal failure in western countries. Subclinical renal function abnormalities may exist in patients with extrarenal atherosclerosis, and may precede the onset of overt ischemic nephropathy.
Methods: To assess the impact of extrarenal atherosclerosis on the kidney, we evaluated renal function in 89 subjects with differing degrees of peripheral atherosclerosis, without manifest clinical or laboratory signs of ischemic nephropathy and renovascular hypertension. All laboratory testing, ultrasonography with Doppler analysis for the localization of peripheral vascular disease (carotid and lower limb arteries), and non-invasive evaluation of renal function by radionuclide studies of renal plasma flow (MAG3 clearance) and glomerular filtration (DTPA clearance), as well as total, LDL and HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were determined; smoking habit was recorded. By combining sonographic data on arterial tree stenosis (ATS), the subjects were grouped according to the atherosclerotic vascular damage (ATS involvement).
Results: Despite no change in plasma creatinine and DTPA clearance (from 91.58+/-26.53 mL/min/1.73 m2 to 93.47+/-24.82), MAG3 clearance progressively declined with the severity of vascular damage (from 244.86+/-60.60 mL/min/1.73 m2 to 173.59+/-58.74). Stepwise multiple regression analysis indicated that MAG3 clearance was best explained by ATS involvement (standardized beta coefficient -0.40; p<0.001), smoking habit (-0.34; p= 0.004), and serum LDL-cholesterol (-0.24; p<0.035).
Conclusions: The renal hemodynamic profile in atherosclerotic patients might constitute functional evidence of the silent phase of ischemic renal disease. The findings suggest that renal function should be carefully assessed in patients with extrarenal atherosclerosis, particularly in those with classic cardiovascular risk factors.