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Papers And Short Reports

Long term correction of hyperglycaemia and progression of renal failure in insulin dependent diabetes

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 286 doi: (Published 19 February 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;286:598
  1. G C Viberti,
  2. R W Bilous,
  3. D Mackintosh,
  4. J J Bending,
  5. H Keen


    The effect of long term correction of hyperglycaemia on the rate of deterioration of renal function was studied in six insulin dependent diabetics with proteinuria due to diabetic nephropathy. After a planned run in observation period of 10 to 24 months patients entered a programme of continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion for up to 24 months. Glycaemic control was promptly and significantly improved and optimal glycaemic values sustained throughout the study. Blood pressure was maintained stable. A control group of six nephropathic diabetics was studied receiving conventional insulin injection treatment but also with blood pressure control over the same period.

    Despite greatly improved metabolic control in the infusion treated group no significant change in the rate of decline of glomerular filtration rate could be shown, the plasma creatinine concentrations continued to increase, and the fractional clearance of albumin and IgG rose progressively, indicating progression of glomerular damage. The conventionally treated control group behaved similarly. In a single patient receiving the continuous infusion the rate of decline of the glomerular filtration rate slowed considerably, suggesting that the response to strict diabetic control may differ in some patients.

    These findings suggest that by the time glomerular function has started to fail in diabetic nephropathy the process culminating in end stage renal failure has become self perpetuating and is little influenced by the degree of metabolic control. A new definition of potential clinical diabetic nephropathy is proposed that will permit identification of patients at risk and earlier intervention by glycaemic correction in an attempt to arrest diabetic renal disease.