Urinary afamin levels are associated with the progression of diabetic nephropathy

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2019 Jan:147:37-46. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2018.02.034. Epub 2018 Mar 6.


Aims: In this study, we applied quantitative proteomic analysis to identify urinary proteins associated with diabetic nephropathy (DN).

Methods: Two-dimensional image-converted analysis of liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry detected the proteins differentially excreted between normoalbuminuric and macroalbuminuric patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) (n = 6 each). Urinary levels of excreted proteins were measured by multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) analysis using an independent sample set (n = 77). Urinary afamin levels were measured by ELISA in T2DM and DN patients enrolled in this cohort study (n = 203).

Results: One-hundred-four proteins displayed significant alterations in excretion. Nine of these candidates were validated by MRM analysis. Among them, the levels of afamin, CD44 antigen, and lysosome-associated membrane glycoprotein 2, which have not previously been implicated in DN, were significantly associated with both the urinary albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) and eGFR. We further measured afamin levels in urine collected from T2DM patients who did not yet have significant kidney disease (ACR < 300 mg/g or eGFR change rate ≤ 3.3%/year). The urinary afamin to creatinine ratio (Afa/Cre) was significantly higher in patients who progressed to a more severe DN stage or had early renal decline than in patients who did not.

Conclusions: Afa/Cre was significantly increased in T2DM patients who subsequently developed DN. Afa/Cre may be useful to predict patients with T2DM at high risk of nephropathy before the development of macroalbuminuria or reduced kidney function, although further validation studies in a larger population are needed.

Keywords: 2DICAL; Afamin; Diabetic nephropathy; MRM.

MeSH terms

  • Carrier Proteins / urine*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / urine
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / urine
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glycoproteins / urine*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Serum Albumin, Human / urine*


  • AFM protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Glycoproteins
  • Serum Albumin, Human