Low molecular weight protein excretion in glomerular disease: a comparative analysis

Pediatr Nephrol. 1997 Jun;11(3):285-90. doi: 10.1007/s004670050278.


We studied 23 children with steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS), 21 children with steroid-resistant types of nephrotic syndrome and 32 children with other types of nephritis. Our controls were 43 apparently healthy children. We measured the urinary excretion of N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase (NAG) and the low molecular weight (LMW) protein beta 2-microglobulin (B2M), retinol-binding protein (RBP), alpha 1-microglobulin (A1M) and urine protein 1 (UP1). Results for B2M were considered only for a urine pH greater than 6.0. Comparisons were made with urine albumin excretion, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and tubular abnormalities in selected renal biopsy samples. We found that abnormalities of LMW protein excretion occurred in between 50% (B2M) and 88% (UP1) of all subjects. In children with SSNS, A1M (r = 0.73), UP1 (r = 0.65) and NAG (r = 0.54) excretion were significantly correlated with albumin excretion, but not RBP or B2M excretion. Increased fractional excretion of A1M, B2M and UP1 and increased plasma A1M were demonstrated in 9 children with SSNS, suggesting competition for tubular reabsorption with albumin, most marked for UP1. In the steroid-resistant nephrotic and nephritic syndromes, correlation with albumin was found for all proteins. In these subjects, RBP (r = 0.37), B2M (r = 0.42) and A1M (r = 0.28) were inversely correlated with GFR, but not UP1, NAG or albumin. We found that RBP excretion was significantly greater in the presence of severe tubular abnormalities in 11 children with recent renal biopsies, but not A1M, UP1 or NAG. We conclude that LMW proteinuria is common in children with glomerular disease, and does not necessarily imply a poor prognosis. Factors other than histologically proven tubular abnormality may account for elevated LMW protein excretion. RBP is the LMW protein most closely associated with structural abnormality and least affected by increasing albuminuria.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albuminuria / metabolism
  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Glomerulonephritis / blood
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology
  • Glomerulonephritis / urine*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Molecular Weight
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / pathology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / urine
  • Proteinuria / blood
  • Proteinuria / metabolism*
  • Steroids / therapeutic use


  • Biomarkers
  • Steroids
  • Creatinine