A new study has suggested a promising method to deal with the chronic kidney disease (CKD) epidemic - a simple and inexpensive urine test.
The study found that individuals with high urinary protein levels are at an increased risk of developing kidney disease.
Therefore, measuring the amount of protein lost in the urine can identify individuals at risk of developing kidney disease.
In the study, led by Ronald T. Gansevoort, MD, PhD, of the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands, more than 40,000 individuals of the general population were asked to collect a urine sample in a plastic test tube.
Samples were sent to a central laboratory where their protein concentrations were measured. The researchers continued to follow these individuals and noted who developed end-stage kidney disease over the next nine years.
A subgroup of 8,592 subjects visited an outpatient department once every three years allowing a detailed study of the rate of kidney function decline during follow-up.
Subjects from the general population that were found to have increased urinary protein levels were shown to represent more than half of the patients who started dialysis or had a kidney transplant during follow-up.
Restricting screening to those individuals with hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease history, or age >55 years having increased urinary protein levels identified nearly all cases needing kidney disease treatment during follow-up.
The researchers concluded that individuals with high urinary protein levels are at high risk for losing their kidney function and needing dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The higher the level of proteins in the urine, the higher the risk of needing dialysis or a kidney transplant and the more rapid the rate of kidney function decline.
"Our findings suggest that subjects with a high amount of urinary protein loss should be invited to a medical center for further investigation and for start of preventive treatment to protect the kidney," said Dr. Gansevoort.
The study will appear in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).