Insulin resistance (IR) is associated with multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Many studies have shown that IR is present in chronic renal failure (CRF), and recent evidence suggests that IR can also occur in the early stages of renal disease. Patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN) have an increase in cardiovascular mortality, and since IR may be a contributing factor, this emphasizes the importance of a detailed understanding of the mechanisms linking IR and renal dysfunction at different stages of DN. IR can be detected early on in DN, e.g. at the stage of microalbuminuria (MA) and this could indicate a common genetic trait for IR and DN. As DN progresses further, IR is aggravated and it may, in addition to other factors, possibly accelerate the decline in renal function toward end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Several potentially modifiable mechanisms including circulating hormones, neuroendocrine pathways and chronic inflammation, are said to contribute to the worsening of IR. In ESRD, uremic toxins are of major importance. In this review article, we address the association between different stages of DN and IR and attempt to summarize major findings on potential mechanisms linking DN and IR. We conclude that IR is a consequence, and potentially also a cause of DN. In addition, there are probably genetic and environmental background factors that predispose to both IR and DN.
Vol. 22, no 5, 401-10 p.