Background: Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) is a major cause of end-stage renal disease. However, the course and determinants of renal failure in this type of diabetes have not been clearly defined.
Methods: We studied glomerular function at intervals of 6 to 12 months for 4 years in 194 Pima Indians selected to represent different stages in the development and progression of diabetic renal disease. Initially, 31 subjects had normal glucose tolerance, 29 had impaired glucose tolerance, 30 had newly diagnosed diabetes, and 104 had had diabetes for five years or more; of these 104, 20 had normal albumin excretion, 50 had microalbuminuria, and 34 had macroalbuminuria. The glomerular filtration rate, renal plasma flow, urinary albumin excretion, and blood pressure were measured at each examination.
Results: Initially, the mean (+/-SE) glomerular filtration rate was 143+/-7 ml per minute in subjects with newly diagnosed diabetes, 155+/-7 ml per minute in those with microalbuminuria, and 124+/-7 ml per minute in those with macroalbuminuria; these values were 16 percent, 26 percent, and 1 percent higher, respectively, than in the subjects with normal glucose tolerance (123+/-4 ml per minute). During four years of follow-up, the glomerular filtration rate increased by 18 percent in the subjects who initially had newly diagnosed diabetes (P=0.008); the rate declined by 3 percent in those with microalbuminuria at base line (P=0.29) and by 35 percent in those with macroalbuminuria (P<0.001). Higher base-line blood pressure predicted increasing urinary albumin excretion (P=0.006), and higher base-line urinary albumin excretion predicted a decline in the glomerular filtration rate (P<0.001). The initial glomerular filtration rate did not predict worsening albuminuria.
Conclusions: The glomerular filtration rate is elevated at the onset of NIDDM and remains so while normal albumin excretion or microalbuminuria persists. It declines progressively after the development of macroalbuminuria.