Background: Podocyte injury has been implicated in diabetic nephropathy (DN) ranging from normoalbuminuria to proteinuria in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Methods: To determine whether podocyte structural parameters predict DN risk in initially normoalbuminuric long-standing type 1 diabetic patients, we performed a nested case-control study in sex and diabetes duration-matched progressors (progression to proteinuria or ESRD, n = 10), non-progressors (normoalbuminuric at follow-up, n = 10), and non-diabetic controls (n = 10). Results: HbA1c and diastolic blood pressure were higher in progressors versus non-progressors. Podocyte number per glomerulus, numerical density of podocyte per glomerulus, and foot process width were not different among groups. The glomerular basement membrane width was greater in progressors versus non-progressors or controls, and in non-progressors versus controls. As expected, the mesangial fractional volume was greater in progressors and non-progressors versus controls, with no differences between progressors and non-progressors. Conclusion: This study does not indicate that podocyte structural changes are preconditions for later DN progression in initially normoalbuminuric type 1 diabetic patients. However, this does not preclude an important role for podocyte injury at a later stage of DN.
- Type 1 diabetes