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Mod Pathol. 2004 Dec;17(12):1506-12.

Isolate diffuse thickening of glomerular capillary basement membrane: a renal lesion in prediabetes?

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Department of Anatomical & Cellular Pathology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong, China.


A total of 23 patients with proteinuria and isolated ultrastructural diffuse thickening of the glomerular capillary basement membrane were studied, focusing on the possibility of diabetes mellitus, morphometry of the capillary basement membrane, and the comparison with three other groups of patients. These included 14 patients with minimal change nephropathy (MCN), 45 patients with type II diabetes arbitrarily divided into 11 early and 34 late diabetic patients, defined, respectively, as less than 3 and over 5 years history, and 13 patients biopsied for transient mild proteinuria or hematuria, with no evidence of renal disease on follow-up were used as controls. The level of proteinuria and prevalence of hematuria were similar in patients with isolated thick basement membrane and with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy was present in 10% of early diabetes, 69% of late diabetes, but not in isolated thick basement membrane. Kimmelstiel-Wilson nodules were seen in late diabetes, and not in other patients. Hyaline arteriosclerosis was more common in late diabetes than in early diabetes or isolated thick basement membrane. The basement membrane thickness was similar between controls (371+/-17 nm) and MCN (345+/-16 nm), between patients with isolated thick basement membrane (482+/-69 nm) and early diabetes (457+/-64 nm), but significantly thicker in isolated thick basement membrane as compared to controls and MCN. In patients with isolated thick basement membrane, the basement membrane thickness was not correlated with age, smoking, body weight, hyaline arteriosclerosis, and hypertension. However, blood tests for diabetes were positive in 20% of patients at biopsy, in 44% at 6 months and 70% at 24 months follow-up, while seven patients showed no evidence of diabetes on follow-up. Patients with proteinuria and isolated thick glomerular basement membrane must be differentiated from MCN for therapeutic implications, and specifically managed for its strong association with prediabetes or early diabetes.

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