Background: Some studies suggest that progression of renal disease is slower in women than in men. However, other factors that are also associated with progression of renal disease have not always been taken into account. Therefore, we undertook this analysis to explore the independent association of renal disease progression with gender.
Methods: We analysed a pooled database of patients with non-diabetic renal disease enrolled in 11 randomized controlled trials evaluating the efficacy of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) for slowing renal disease progression. The primary end point was the combined outcome of doubling of baseline serum creatinine or onset of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). The secondary end point was the onset of ESRD alone. We performed multivariable Cox proportional hazards analysis to study the independent effect of gender on these end points after adjusting for baseline patient characteristics, and changes from baseline to follow-up systolic blood pressure (SBP) and urine protein (UP) excretion.
Results: The total number of patients was 1860: 645 (35%) females and 1215 (65%) males. Mean duration of follow-up was 2.2 years. The proportions randomized to ACEI (51%), mean baseline serum creatinine (2.2 mg/dl) and mean age (52 years) were similar for both genders. Mean baseline SBP was greater in women than in men: 151 vs 147 mmHg (P < 0.001). Mean baseline UP was significantly lower in women compared with men: 1.3 vs 2.1 g/day (P < 0.001). A total of 311 (16.7%) patients developed the primary end point, and 176 (9.5%) developed the secondary end point. The unadjusted relative risk (RR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for the primary end point in women vs men was 0.98 (0.77-1.24). It became 1.32 (1.03-1.69) after adjusting for the baseline variables and interaction between ACEIs and baseline UP, and 1.36 (1.06-1.75) after adjusting for baseline variables and changes in SBP and UP during follow-up. Similar results were found for the outcome of ESRD.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the rate of renal disease progression may not be slower, and may even be faster in women compared with men, after adjusting for other factors associated with a faster rate of progression. We caution that most women in our database were of post-menopausal age, and thus our findings may not extend to younger women.