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High blood glucose levels may increase kidney disease in elderly populations

New study shows high insulin resistance is correlated with rapid decline in renal function

Elderly people with the metabolic syndrome—defined as having multiple risk factors associated with developing diabetes and heart disease—had an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

An individual is diagnosed with the metabolic syndrome when they have three or more of the following risk factors for diabetes and heart disease: high abdominal obesity, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, high blood pressure, high triglycerides (fat in the blood) and high blood glucose levels. The metabolic syndrome is more common in older populations and while previous studies have demonstrated an association between the metabolic syndrome and kidney disease, the current study is the first to investigate this association as it applies to the elderly population.

"Our study found that metabolic syndrome predicts both the prevalence and incidence of chronic kidney disease in people aged 65 years or older," said lead investigator Chung-Jen Yen, MD, of National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. "We also found that rapid decline in renal function is more likely found in individuals with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels."

In this study, researchers sought to define the effect of the metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance on the development of chronic kidney disease, and the decline in renal function in a cohort of 1,456 Asians aged 65 years or older. Yen and his colleagues evaluated study participants for the metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, and followed them for an average of more than three years. They found that insulin resistance may be the central hub that links metabolic syndrome and the deterioration of renal function.

"Our study suggests that people can safeguard their kidneys when they take care of their blood glucose levels and lose weight," said Yen. "Further studies are needed to assess the impact of treating metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance on renal outcomes in the elderly population."

Others working on the study include: C-K Chiang, J-W Huang, H-T Cheng, K-Y Hung and K-D Wu, all of the National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine.

The article, "Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance as risk factors for development of chronic kidney disease and rapid decline in renal function in the elderly" appears in the April 2012 issue of JCEM.

Founded in 1916, The Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, The Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 15,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in more than 100 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Chevy Chase, Maryland. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at Follow us on Twitter at!/EndoMedia.

Aaron Lohr | EurekAlert!
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