Magazine article Science News

Protein May Predict Diabetic Complications

Magazine article Science News

Protein May Predict Diabetic Complications

Article excerpt

Protein may predict diabetic complications

Insulin-dependent (Type I) diabetics who suffer from disease-related blood vessel damage often have elevated levels of a blood protein called prorenin. Now, a study suggests that a diabetic's prorenin levels may increase significantly 18 months before any vessel damage shows up in the eyes or kidneys.

If further research verifies that finding, the protein may someday serve as an early warning of microvascular complications, giving physicians "a better chance of helping people avoid [diabetic retinopathy and kidney damage]," says Darrell M. Wilson of the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Over periods averaging about two years, Wilson and John A. Luetscher of STandford took blood samples from 135 children and adolescents with Type I diabetes, who also underwent periodic physical examinations.

During the study, nine of the diabetics developed kidney damange (indicated by increased amounts of albumin in urine) and/or diabetic retinopathy, a vision-robbing disorder caused by leaky blood vessesl in the eye. Eight of the nine had at least one blodd sample showing higher-than-normal prorenin concentrations an average of 18 months before the onset of symptoms, the scientists report in the Oct. 18 NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. Among the diabetics who had consisitently normal prorenin concentrations, only one developed microvascular complications during the study, the investigators say. …

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