Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Effect of protein restriction in insulin dependent diabetics at risk of nephropathy.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 294 doi: (Published 28 March 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;294:795
  1. D Cohen,
  2. R Dodds,
  3. G Viberti


    Persistent proteinuria is strongly associated with increased mortality in insulin dependent diabetes, and risk of this condition can be predicted many years in advance by subclinical increases in albumin excretion rate (microalbuminuria). Eight normotensive insulin dependent diabetics with microalbuminuria who had overnight albumin excretion rates of between 15 and 200 micrograms/min underwent a three week randomised crossover study of their normal protein diet (median 92 (range 55-117) g/day) and a low protein diet (47 (38-57) g/day). Both diets were isoenergetic, and the low protein diet was supplemented with calcium and phosphate. Median overnight albumin excretion rate fell from 23.0 (15.0-170.1) micrograms/min during the normal diet to 15.4 (4.1-97.8) micrograms/min during the low protein diet. No consistent change was found in urinary excretion of beta 2 microglobulin during the two diets. The reduction in albumin excretion rate was accompanied by a significant fall in median glomerular filtration rate and fractional renal clearance of albumin. Kidney volume remained unchanged. There were no significant changes in glycaemic control or arterial blood pressure. In these few patients restriction of dietary protein had a beneficial effect on microalbuminuria, independent of changes in glucose concentrations and arterial blood pressure.