The Possibility of Urinary Liver-Type Fatty Acid-Binding Protein as a Biomarker of Renal Hypoxia in Spontaneously Diabetic Torii Fatty Rats

Kidney Blood Press Res. 2019;44(6):1476-1492. doi: 10.1159/000503926. Epub 2019 Nov 15.


Background: Renal hypoxia is an aggravating factor for tubulointerstitial damage, which is strongly associated with renal prognosis in diabetic kidney disease (DKD). Therefore, urinary markers that can detect renal hypoxia are useful for monitoring DKD.

Objective: To determine the correlation between urinary liver-type fatty acid-binding protein (L-FABP) and renal hypoxia using a novel animal model of type 2 diabetes.

Methods: Male spontaneously diabetic Torii (SDT) fatty rats (n = 6) were used as an animal model of type 2 diabetes. Age- and sex-matched Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats (n = 8) were used as controls. Body weight, systolic blood pressure, and blood glucose levels were measured at 8, 12, 16, and 24 weeks of age. Urine samples and serum and kidney tissues were collected at 24 weeks of age. Microvascular blood flow index (BFI) was measured using diffuse correlation spectroscopy before sampling both the serum and kidneys for the evaluation of renal microcirculation at the corticomedullary junction.

Results: Obesity, hyperglycemia, and hypertension were observed in the SDT fatty rats. Focal glomerular sclerosis, moderate interstitial inflammation, and fibrosis were significantly more frequent in SDT fatty rats than in SD rats. While the frequency of peritubular endothelial cells and phosphoendothelial nitric oxide synthase levels were similar in both types of rats, the degree of renal hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) expression was significantly higher (and with no change in renal vascular endothelial growth factor expression levels) in the SDT fatty rats. Urinary L-FABP levels were significantly higher and renal microvascular BFI was significantly lower in the SDT fatty rats than in the SD rats. Urinary L-FABP levels exhibited a significant positive correlation with renal HIF-1α expression and a significant negative correlation with renal microvascular BFI.

Conclusions: Urinary L-FABP levels reflect the degree of renal hypoxia in DKD in a type 2 diabetic animal model. Urinary L-FABP may thus prove useful as a renal hypoxia marker for monitoring DKD in patients with type 2 diabetes in clinical practice.

Keywords: Diabetes; Diabetic kidney disease; Hypoxia; Kidney; Liver-type fatty acid-binding protein; Tubulointerstitial damage.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diagnosis*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins / urine*
  • Hypoxia / diagnosis*
  • Hypoxia / urine
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Rats
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A