Hyperfiltration is widely regarded as a contributing factor to the development of microalbuminuria and progressive nephropathy in type 1 diabetes. However, recent studies have questioned this conclusion.
To address this conflicting evidence, we examined the association between hyperfiltration and progression to microalbuminuria in 2,318 adults with type 1 diabetes. We also compared the estimated GFR in our diabetic patients with rates observed in 6,247 adults from the Finnish general population, using age- and sex-specific z scores.
The distribution of estimated GFR in adults with type 1 diabetes and normoalbuminuria was not significantly different from that expected in the general population (p = 0.51, Mann-Whitney test). Type 1 diabetic patients with a higher estimated GFR were also no more likely to develop microalbuminuria over a median of 5.2 years of follow-up than those with normal estimated GFR. This was the case regardless of whether hyperfiltration was defined by an absolute threshold, deciles of estimated GFR or a z score, using creatinine- or cystatin-based clearance formulas in men or in women.
Together with other studies, these data suggest that creatinine- or cystatin-based estimates of GFR do not predict the development of microalbuminuria in patients with type 1 diabetes. Moreover, in the absence of incipient or overt nephropathy, conventionally determined renal function in patients with type 1 diabetes appears no different from that in the general population. This is hardly surprising, given that these individuals, by all definitions, do not have kidney disease.