Background: Weight excess is associated with increased renal risk. Data in overt obesity suggest a role for altered renal hemodynamics. Whether body mass index (BMI) is also relevant to renal function in non-obese subjects is unknown.
Methods: We studied the relation between BMI and renal hemodynamics in 102 healthy, non-obese (BMI <30 kg/m2) subjects [59 males, 43 females, mean age 39 (18-69) years] in a post-hoc analysis of subjects evaluated as prospective kidney donors or as healthy volunteers in renal hemodynamic studies.
Results: Mean (+/-SD) BMI was 24.0 +/- 2.8 kg/m2, mean arterial pressure (MAP) 93 +/- 11 mm Hg, glomerular filtration rate (GFR, iothalamate clearance) 111 +/- 19 mL/min/1.73 m2, effective renal plasma flow (ERPF, hippuran clearance) 458 +/- 108 mL/min/1.73 m2, FF (GFR/ERPF) 0.25 +/- 0.04. On univariate analysis, BMI correlated negatively with ERPF/1.73 m2 body surface area (BSA) (r=-0.46; P < 0.001), GFR/1.73 m2 BSA (r=-0.24, P= 0.013) and positively with FF (r= 0.45, P < 0.001), and age (r= 0.47, P < 0.001). On multivariate analysis both BMI and age were independent predictors of ERPF/1.73 m2 BSA (negative) and FF (positive, all P < 0.05). Age was the only predictor of GFR/1.73 m2 BSA (negative). Analyzed for renal function indexed for height (h), BMI correlated negatively with ERPF/h (r=-0.274, P= 0.005), but not with GFR/h (r= 0.13, P= 0.899). On multivariate analysis both BMI (positive) and age (negative) were independent predictors for GFR/h (both P < 0.001). Age was the only predictor for ERPF/h (negative). Predictors for FF (BMI and age, both positive) were by definition unaltered.
Conclusion: The impact of BMI on renal function is not limited to overt obesity, as in subjects with BMI <30 kg/m2 a higher BMI is associated with higher FF, that is, a higher GFR relative to ERPF. This suggests an altered afferent/efferent balance and higher glomerular pressure (i.e., a potentially unfavorable renal hemodynamic profile) that may confer enhanced renal susceptibility when other factors, such as hypertension or diabetes are superimposed.