Insulin resistance as a therapeutic target for chronic kidney disease

J Ren Nutr. 2015 Mar;25(2):226-9. doi: 10.1053/j.jrn.2014.10.019. Epub 2014 Dec 12.


Insulin resistance (IR) is a prevalent metabolic feature in chronic kidney disease (CKD). Postreceptor insulin-signaling defects have been observed in uremia. A decrease in the activity of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase appears critical in the pathophysiology of CKD-associated IR. Lipotoxicity due to ectopic accumulation of lipid moieties has recently emerged as another mechanism by which CKD and/or associated metabolic disorders may lead to IR through impairment of various insulin-signaling molecules. Metabolic acidosis, anemia, excess of fat mass, inflammation, vitamin D deficiency, adipokine imbalance, physical inactivity, and the accumulation of nitrogenous compounds of uremia all contribute to CKD-associated IR. The clinical impacts of IR in this setting are numerous, including endothelial dysfunction, increased cardiovascular mortality, muscle wasting, and possibly initiation and progression of CKD. This is why IR may be a therapeutic target in the attempt to improve outcomes in CKD. General measures to improve IR are directed to counteract causal factors. The use of pharmaceutical agents such as inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system may improve IR in hypertensive and CKD patients. Pioglitazone appears a safe and promising therapeutic agent to reduce IR and uremic-associated abnormalities. However, interventional studies are needed to test if the reduction and/or normalization of IR may actually improve outcomes in these patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Uremia / complications
  • Uremia / physiopathology