Effect of dietary protein restriction on functional renal reserve in diabetic nephropathy

Am J Med. 1990 Oct;89(4):427-31. doi: 10.1016/0002-9343(90)90370-s.


Purpose, patients, and methods: Functional renal reserve in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, as determined by the glomerular filtration rate (GFR) response test, is a measure of the capacity of the kidney to increase glomerular filtration in response to the stimulus of a protein meal or amino acid infusion. This 12-month study evaluated the changes in functional renal reserve in eight patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus with nephropathy (micro-albuminuria [greater than or equal to 30 micrograms/minute]) who chronically decreased their dietary protein intake to a mean of 0.6 g/kg/day (Group 1) compared with a group of similar patients (n = 7) who maintained their unusual dietary protein intake (1.0 g/kg/day, Group 2). Patients were evaluated and measurements taken at 3-, 6-, and 12-month intervals. Absolute and percent increases in GFR were calculated from three averaged 1-hour measurements after an 80-g protein test meal.

Results: Although the initial absolute mean rise (14 +/- 12 versus 18 +/- 13 mL/minute/1.73 m2) in GFR and maximal percent rise (16% +/- 16% versus 32% +/- 27%) after the meal did not differ significantly between the two groups, at 12 months, values in the lower protein group increased (27.8 +/- 9.5 mL/minute/1.73 m2 and 54.7% +/- 48.8%), whereas those in the normal protein intake group declined significantly (3.7 +/- 3.6 mL/min-ute/1.73 m2 and 6.5% +/- 6.5%) (p less than 0.05). Both urine urea and microalbuminuria decreased significantly (p less than 0.05) in the low protein group. Unstimulated GFR at the end of 12 months was significantly less (p less than 0.05) in Group 2 (47 +/- 2 mL/minute/1.73 m2) than in Group 1 (71 +/- 21 mL/minute/1.73 m2). The rate of decline in GFR was significantly greater (p less than 0.05) in the normal protein intake group than in the low protein intake group (0.68 +/- 0.4 versus 0.28 +/- 0.15 mL/minute/1.73 m2/month).

Conclusions: This study indicates that sustained dietary protein restriction can help to preserve renal function, decrease albuminuria, and lower the baseline GFR while maintaining functional renal reserve in patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Albuminuria / urine
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diet therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / urine
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diet therapy
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / urine
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Time Factors
  • Urea / urine


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Urea