Glycemic control and burnt-out diabetes in ESRD

Semin Dial. Mar-Apr 2010;23(2):148-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2010.00701.x. Epub 2010 Mar 30.


Treatment of early diabetes mellitus, the most common cause of chronic kidney disease (CKD), may prevent or slow the progression of diabetic nephropathy and lower mortality and the incidence of cardiovascular disease in the general diabetic population and in patients with early stages of CKD. It is unclear whether glycemic control in patients with advanced CKD, including those with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) who undergo maintenance dialysis treatment is beneficial. Aside from the uncertain benefits of treatment in ESRD, hypoglycemic interventions in this population are also complicated by the complex changes in glucose homeostasis related to decreased kidney function and to dialytic therapies, occasionally leading to spontaneous resolution of hyperglycemia and normalization of hemoglobin A1c levels, a condition which might be termed "burnt-out diabetes." Further difficulties in ESRD are posed by the complicated pharmacokinetics of antidiabetic medications and the serious flaws in our available diagnostic tools used for monitoring long-term glycemic control. We review the physiology and pathophysiology of glucose homeostasis in advanced CKD and ESRD, the available antidiabetic medications and their specifics related to kidney function, and the diagnostic tools used to monitor the severity of hyperglycemia and the therapeutic effects of available treatments, along with their deficiencies in ESRD. We also review the concept of burnt-out diabetes and summarize the findings of studies that examined outcomes related to glycemic control in diabetic ESRD patients, and emphasize areas in need of further research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / therapy*
  • Disease Progression
  • Fructosamine / metabolism
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Renal Dialysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Albumins
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Fructosamine