Aims/hypothesis: Increased concentrations of C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, a finding suggestive of the presence of inflammation, have been observed in Type 2 diabetes. In such patients, C-reactive protein was predictive of diabetic nephropathy. Studies on low-grade inflammatory markers and nephropathy in Type 1 diabetic patients have shown conflicting results. Therefore we studied whether low-grade inflammation is associated with diabetic nephropathy in Type 1 diabetic patients.
Methods: We divided 194 Type 1 diabetic patients into three groups from the Finnish Diabetic Nephropathy Study based upon their albumin excretion rate. Patients with normoalbuminuria (n=67) had no antihypertensive medication or signs of cardiovascular disease, while patients with microalbuminuria (n=64) or macroalbuminuria (n=63) were all treated with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, a drug that could attenuate low-grade inflammation. As a measure of insulin sensitivity we used estimated glucose disposal rate. C-reactive protein was measured by radioimmunoassay and interleukin-6 by high sensitivity enzyme immunoassay.
Results: C-reactive protein was higher in micro- and macroalbuminuric patients compared to normoalbuminuric patients (normoalbuminuria 2.0+/-1.7, microalbuminuria 2.6+/-1.7, macroalbuminuria 2.9+/-2.5 mg/l; p=0.016), while interleukin-6 increased in parallel with the severity of the renal disease (1.9+/-1.5, 2.9+/-3.3, 3.6+/-3.1 ng/l; p<0.0001). In multiple regression analysis albumin excretion rate was the only variable independently associated with C-reactive protein (p=0.03), whereas albumin excretion rate (p=0.0003), HDL-cholesterol (p=0.0135) and duration of diabetes (p=0.0176) were independently associated with interleukin-6.
Conclusions/interpretation: Low-grade inflammatory markers are associated with diabetic nephropathy in Type 1 diabetic patients. The predictive value needs to be assessed.