Role of Kidney Biopsies for Biomarker Discovery in Diabetic Kidney Disease

Helen C. Looker, Michael Mauer, Robert G. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

2 Scopus citations


Although estimated glomerular filtration rate and albuminuria are well-established biomarkers of diabetic kidney disease (DKD), additional biomarkers are needed, especially for the early stages of the disease when both albuminuria and estimated glomerular filtration rate may still be in the normal range and are less helpful for identifying those at risk of progression. Traditional biomarker studies for early DKD are challenging because of a lack of good early clinical end points, and most rely on changes in existing imprecise biomarkers to assess the value of new biomarkers. There are well-characterized changes in kidney structure, however, that are highly correlated with kidney function, always precede the clinical findings of DKD and, at preclinical stages, predict DKD progression. These structural parameters may thus serve as clinically useful end points for identifying new biomarkers of early DKD. In addition, investigators are analyzing tissue transcriptomic data to identify pathways involved in early DKD which may have associated candidate biomarkers measurable in blood or urine, and differentially expressed microRNAs and epigenetic modifications in kidney tissue are beginning to yield important observations which may be useful in identifying new clinically useful biomarkers. This review examines the emerging literature on the use of kidney tissue in biomarker discovery in DKD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-201
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Chronic Kidney Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Biomarkers
  • Diabetic kidney disease
  • Imaging
  • Kidney biopsy
  • Morphometry

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