Objective: Urinary liver-type fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP) is a promising indicator of tubular but not glomerular damage. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of urinary L-FABP as a prognostic biomarker in impaired diabetic nephropathy in type 2 diabetes.
Research design and methods: This investigation involved a cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis of the relationship between urinary L-FABP levels and progressive nephropathy. Urinary L-FABP was measured with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In the cross-sectional analysis, the association of urinary L-FABP, with the severity of diabetic nephropathy, was investigated in 140 patients with type 2 diabetes and in 412 healthy control subjects. Of the patients in the former study, 104 have been followed for 4 years. The progression of diabetic nephropathy was defined as progressive albuminuria, end-stage renal disease, or induction of hemodialysis.
Results: Urinary L-FABP levels were progressively increased in subjects with normo-, micro-, or macroalbuminuria and further increased in patients with end-stage renal disease. In the longitudinal analysis, high urinary L-FABP levels were associated with the increase in albuminuria, progression to end-stage renal disease, or induction of hemodialysis. This was particularly demonstrated in the subgroup of patients without renal dysfunction (n = 59), where high urinary L-FABP levels were associated with the progression of diabetic nephropathy.
Conclusions: Urinary L-FABP accurately reflected the severity of diabetic nephropathy in type 2 diabetes, and its level was high in the patients with normoalbuminuria. Moreover, higher urinary L-FABP was a risk factor for progression of diabetic nephropathy.