In various renal diseases, including diabetic nephropathy, detection of podocytes in the urine indicates severe injury to podocytes in the glomeruli. Pioglitazone is a newly developed antidiabetic agent that attenuates insulin resistance. The aim of the present study was to determine whether pioglitazone affects urinary albumin excretion (UAE) or the number of urinary podocytes or both in type 2 diabetes patients with microalbuminuria. Twenty-eight patients with normotensive type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria (18 men and 10 women; mean age, 52.5 years) and 30 age-matched normotensive controls (20 men and 10 women; mean age, 51.5 years) were included in the study. Urinary podocytes were detected by immunofluorescence with a monoclonal antibody against podocalyxin. Patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups: a pioglitazone-treatment group (30 mg/day, n = 14) and a placebo group (n = 14). Treatment was continued for 6 months. Podocytes were absent in the urine of healthy controls, but detected in 17 of 28 diabetic patients (60.7%). UAE was reduced from 96.7 +/- 50.5 microg/min to 39.7 +/- 22.9 microg/min (P <.01) in the pioglitazone-treatment group, and the number of urinary podocytes was reduced from 0.9 +/- 1.0 cells/mL to 0.1 +/- 0.2 cells/mL (P <.001). Neither UAE nor the number of urinary podocytes was affected in the placebo group. These data indicate that pioglitazone is effective for reducing UAE and podocyte injury in early-stage diabetic nephropathy.
Copyright 2001 by W.B. Saunders Company