Renal albumin absorption in physiology and pathology

Kidney Int. 2006 Feb;69(3):440-9. doi: 10.1038/


Albumin is the most abundant plasmaprotein serving multiple functions as a carrier of metabolites, hormones, vitamins, and drugs, as an acid/base buffer, as antioxidant and by supporting the oncotic pressure and volume of the blood. The presence of albumin in urine is considered to be the result of the balance between glomerular filtration and tubular reabsorption. Albuminuria has been accepted as an independent risk factor and a marker for renal as well as cardiovascular disease, and during the past decade, evidence has suggested that albumin itself may cause progression of renal disease. Thus, the reduction of proteinuria and, in particular, albuminuria has become a target in itself to prevent deterioration of renal function. Studies have shown albumin and its ligands to induce expression of inflammatory and fibrogenic mediators, and it has been hypothesized that increased filtration of albumin causes excessive tubular reabsorption, resulting in inflammation and fibrosis, resulting in the loss of renal function. In addition, it is known that tubular dysfunction in itself may cause albuminuria owing to decreased reabsorption of filtered albumin, and, recently, it has been suggested that significant amounts of albumin fragments are excreted in the urine as a result of tubular degradation. Thus, although both tubular and glomerular dysfunction influences renal handling of albumin, it appears that tubular reabsorption plays a central role in mediating the effects of albumin on renal function. The present paper will review the mechanisms for tubular albumin uptake and the possible implications for the development of renal disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Albumins / metabolism*
  • Albuminuria / pathology
  • Albuminuria / physiopathology*
  • Albuminuria / urine
  • Animals
  • Fibrosis
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Tubules / pathology
  • Kidney Tubules / physiology
  • Kidney Tubules / physiopathology
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2 / physiology
  • Receptors, Albumin / physiology
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology


  • Albumins
  • Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein-2
  • Receptors, Albumin
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • intrinsic factor-cobalamin receptor