Having elevated albumin in the urine can increase the risk of kidney and heart disease by up to three times in people with type 1 diabetes, researchers suggest.
The presence of elevated albumin in the urine is known as albuminuria, and is a marker for kidney disease.
In this new study, researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that men with type 1 diabetes and albuminuria had elevated levels of copepti, a peptide that can help predict the likelihood of risk of heart disease.
“High levels of copeptin were associated with greater odds of albuminuria and impaired glomerular filtration rate which measures kidney function and stages of kidney disease,” said lead author Dr. Petter Bjornstad.
Thirty eight males with type 1 diabetes and albumin in the urine were compared to 38 males with diabetes and normal albumin levels.
Copeptin was more than three times in higher among those with albuminuria, which is secreted with a hormone called arginine vasopressin (AVP) from the pituitary gland.
AVP regulates urination, but chronically higher levels can lead to kidney and blood vessel damage; it is also very difficult to measure in patients because of its small size.
Bjornstad’s team measured copeptin instead as it is more stable and can be measured more easily. They now believe a family of drugs called vaptans could be valuable in blocking excess AVP and preventing diabetic nephropathy
“These findings may have life-saving implications for those with diabetic kidney and heart disease,” he said.
“We think that vaptans or therapies targeting vasopressin can delay or stop the development of diabetic kidney disease. There are clinical trials undergoing with vaptans in polycystic kidney disease, but to our knowledge no one is looking at vaptans and diabetic kidney disease yet.”
The study was published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications.

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