Background: Proteinuria, due to impairment of the charge- and/or size selectivity of the glomerular capillary wall (GCW) is the earliest clinical evidence of diabetic nephropathy (DN). To study the pathophysiological differences between patients with DN in type 1 diabetes mellitus (type 1 DN) and type 2 diabetes mellitus (type 2 DN), we compared the patterns of urinary proteins of different size and charge in the two entities of diabetic kidney disease.
Methods: Urine concentrations of albumin, IgG2, IgG4 and IgM were assessed in 22 (15 males and 7 females) patients with type 1 DN, and in 20 (18 males and 2 females) patients with type 2 DN. Comparisons with one control group of 13 (12 males and one female) patients with nephrosclerosis due to systemic hypertension and a second control group of 16 (14 males and 2 females) healthy controls were made.
Results: The urine excretion of IgG2 and IgM and the ratio of IgG2 to IgG4 (IgG2/IgG4), were significantly higher in type 2 DN compared to type 1 DN (P < 0.01). Patients with type 2 DN and patients with nephrosclerosis had significantly higher urine excretion of IgG and IgM compared to the age-matched healthy subjects (P < 0.001). The IgG2/IgG4 ratio was higher in type 2 DN compared to nephrosclerosis and healthy controls (P < 0.01).
Conclusion: The increased urine excretion of IgG and IgM that accompanies albuminuria in type 2 DN suggests that the dominant pathophysiological mechanism of proteinuria in type 2 DN might be an alteration of the size selective properties of the glomerular capillary wall, including the occurrence of non-discriminatory "shunt pathways." The charge selective properties of the glomerular capillary wall seem to be intact in type 2 DN, as indicated by the high IgG2/IgG4 ratio. The mechanisms of proteinuria in type 1 DN seem to be merely a consequence of an impaired charge selectivity of the glomerular capillary wall.