Published online Dec 15, 2013. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v4.i6.245
Revised: November 2, 2013
Accepted: November 15, 2013
Published online: December 15, 2013
Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is one of the most important long-term complications of diabetes. Patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease have an increased risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and kidney failure. The clinical diagnosis of DN depends on the detection of microalbuminuria. This usually occurs after the first five years from the onset of diabetes, and predictors of DN development and progression are being studied but are not yet implemented into clinical practice. Diagnostic tests are useful tools to recognize onset, progression and response to therapeutic interventions. Microalbuminuria is an indicator of DN, and it is considered the only noninvasive marker of early onset. However, up to now there is no diagnostic tool that can predict which patients will develop DN before any damage is present. Pathological renal injury is hard to predict only with clinical and laboratory findings. An accurate estimate of damage in DN can only be achieved by the histological analysis of tissue samples. At the present time, renal biopsy is indicated on patients with diabetes under the suspicion of the presence of nephropathies other than DN. Results from renal biopsies in patients with diabetes had made possible the classification of renal biopsies in three major groups associated with different prognostic features: diabetic nephropathy, non-diabetic renal disease (NDRD), and a superimposed non-diabetic condition on underlying diabetic nephropathy. In patients with type 2 diabetes with a higher degree of suspicion for NDRD, it is granted the need of a renal biopsy. It is important to identify and differentiate these pathologies at an early stage in order to prevent progression and potential complications. Therefore, a more extensive use of biopsy is advisable.
Core tip: Diagnostic tests are useful to predict onset, progression and response to therapeutic interventions in diabetic nephropathy (DN). Renal biopsies help to classify renal diseases in three major groups associated with different prognostic features: diabetic nephropathy, non-diabetic nephropathy (NDRD), and a superimposed non-diabetic condition on underlying DN. Pathological renal damage is hard to predict only with clinical and laboratory findings. In patients with a higher degree of suspicion for NDRD, it is granted the need of a renal biopsy. For this reason, more studies are required to assess the routine use of kidney biopsies as a gold standard for diagnosis of diabetic nephropathy.