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Lipids Health Dis. 2019 Apr 1;18(1):82. doi: 10.1186/s12944-019-1007-6.

Efficacy of low-protein diet in diabetic nephropathy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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Department of Endocrinology, Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, No. 256 West Youyi Road, Xi'an, 710068, China.
Department of Endocrinology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, 710004, China.
Department of Endocrinology, Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, No. 256 West Youyi Road, Xi'an, 710068, China.
Department of Endocrinology, Xi'an Central Hospital, Xi'an, 710004, China.



We aimed to systematically assess the efficacy of low-protein diet preventing progression of diabetic nephropathy based on randomized controlled trials (RCTs).


A systematic and electronic search was conducted. Initial searches of literature updated to September 2018 were made using the following databases including CNKI, VIP, Wanfang, Cochrane, PubMed, and Embase using the index words for qualified RCTs. Additional searches were performed to identify linked literature sources. Data of RCTs on low-protein diet versus control diet, efficacy analysis of kidney function, nutritional status or proteinuria were extracted. Random effects model and fixed effects model were applied to combine the data which were further analyzed by Chi-squared test and I2tests. The main outcomes were then analyzed through the use of relative risks (RR), mean difference (MD) and its 95% confidence interval (95% CI).


Twenty articles were included in the present meta-analysis with a total of 690 patients in the low-protein diet group (LPD) and a total of 682 patients in the control group. Moderate to strong evidence indicated that LPD was significantly effective for decreasing the urinary albumin excretion rate (SMD:0.62, 95%CI:0.06-1.19) and proteinuria (SMD:0.69, 95%CI:0.22-1.16) versus the control group. No statistical difference, however, was found in glycosylated hemoglobin (SMD:0.17, 95%CI:-0.18-0.51), serum creatinine (SMD:0.20, 95%CI:-0.26-0.66), as well as glomerular filtration rate (SMD:0.21, 95%CI:-0.29-0.71) between the two groups.


The current meta-analysis reveals an effective role of low-protein diet in improving diabetic nephropathy. However, the small number of involved patients may limit the accuracy of results. High-quality RCTs with a larger sample size in the future are required to confirm the current findings.


Diabetic nephropathy; Low protein diet; Meta-analysis; RCT

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