Insulin resistance in chronic kidney disease: a systematic review

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2016 Dec 1;311(6):F1087-F1108. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00340.2016. Epub 2016 Oct 5.


Insulin resistance (IR) is an early metabolic alteration in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients, being apparent when the glomerular filtration rate is still within the normal range and becoming almost universal in those who reach the end stage of kidney failure. The skeletal muscle represents the primary site of IR in CKD, and alterations at sites beyond the insulin receptor are recognized as the main defect underlying IR in this condition. Estimates of IR based on fasting insulin concentration are easier and faster but may not be adequate in patients with CKD because renal insufficiency reduces insulin catabolism. The hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp is the gold standard for the assessment of insulin sensitivity because this technique allows a direct measure of skeletal muscle sensitivity to insulin. The etiology of IR in CKD is multifactorial in nature and may be secondary to disturbances that are prominent in renal diseases, including physical inactivity, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, vitamin D deficiency, metabolic acidosis, anemia, adipokine derangement, and altered gut microbiome. IR contributes to the progression of renal disease by worsening renal hemodynamics by various mechanisms, including activation of the sympathetic nervous system, sodium retention, and downregulation of the natriuretic peptide system. IR has been solidly associated with intermediate mechanisms leading to cardiovascular (CV) disease in CKD including left ventricular hypertrophy, vascular dysfunction, and atherosclerosis. However, it remains unclear whether IR is an independent predictor of mortality and CV complications in CKD. Because IR is a modifiable risk factor and its reduction may lower CV morbidity and mortality, unveiling the molecular mechanisms responsible for the pathogenesis of CKD-related insulin resistance is of importance for the identification of novel therapeutic targets aimed at reducing the high CV risk of this condition.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; insulin resistance; insulin sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / complications
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications