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Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 Jul;83(7):806-12. doi: 10.4065/83.7.806.

Importance of low-grade albuminuria.

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Renal Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The well-described association between chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease is typically thought to originate from loss of renal function, as estimated by the glomerular filtration rate. However, recent data suggest that urinary albumin excretion has an important role in this association. Albuminuria is a marker of underlying vascular dysfunction and has been correlated with structural and functional integrity of the vasculature. Although the traditional upper limit of normal daily albumin excretion has been 30 mg/d, recent epidemiologic data suggest that levels in the general population are actually much lower. Further, within this range of low-grade albuminuria (LGA), increasing excretion rates are associated with increasing risk of cardiovascular disease. This association is independent of renal function, and in the earliest stages of chronic kidney disease, LGA seems to be a more important determinant than the glomerular filtration rate. This emerging association underscores the complexity of albumin excretion, in which subtle changes in albumin excretion reflect widespread vascular processes. Using the key words albuminuria, low-grade albuminuria, and microalbuminuria in a PubMed search of literature from January 1, 1995, to February 29, 2008, this review summarizes the most recent data on LGA and its association with cardiovascular and renal disease.

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