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Kidney Int. 1991 Nov;40(5):923-6.

Urinary albumin, transferrin and iron excretion in diabetic patients.

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Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Medical School, Denver.


The present study was undertaken to determine urinary and serum iron, transferrin and albumin levels in diabetic patients with varying amounts of proteinuria. A highly significant correlation was found between urinary albumin and transferrin excretion over a wide range of urinary albumin excretion (0.005 to 18 g/g creatinine) (r = 0.972). The urine/serum ratio of transferrin and albumin were identical, documenting a similar glomerular leak and tubule handling for these two proteins. In contrast to the above correlation between transferrin and albumin, there was no correlation between iron and either of these proteins until nephrotic range proteinuria had occurred, and even at that time the correlation was much weaker than that found between the proteins (r = 0.680). Urinary iron excretion increased early in the course of diabetic renal disease, being increased in 3 of 11 patients without proteinuria and in 8 of 10 patients with mild proteinuria. All patients with nephrotic range proteinuria had markedly increased urinary iron excretion (150 +/- 166 micrograms/g creatinine vs. 6.4 +/- 0.7 micrograms/g creatinine in controls) and decreased serum iron levels (592 +/- 189 micrograms/liter vs. 979 +/- 394 micrograms/liter in the control group). The iron/transferrin ratio in urine was consistently greater than the iron/transferrin ratio in plasma at all stages of proteinuria. In patients with both subnephrotic and nephrotic range proteinuria, approximately 35 to 40 micrograms Fe/g creatinine was present in the urine with an excess of transferrin. In conclusion, urinary iron excretion is increased early in the course of diabetic renal disease.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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