Bilirubin, a potent endogenous antioxidant, was found to protect against the development of diabetic nephropathy (DN) in rodents. In humans, cross-sectional studies found an inverse relation between bilirubin and DN. We prospectively investigated whether bilirubin is associated with progression of DN toward end-stage renal disease (ESRD). To this end, we performed a post hoc analysis in the Reduction of Endpoints in NIDDM with the Angiotensin II Antagonist Losartan (RENAAL) trial with independent replication in the Irbesartan Diabetic Nephropathy Trial (IDNT). Subjects with type 2 diabetes and nephropathy with alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and bilirubin levels <1.5 times the upper limit of normal were included. The renal end point was defined as the composite of confirmed doubling of serum creatinine or ESRD. Bilirubin was inversely associated with the renal end point in RENAAL independent of age, sex, race, BMI, smoking, total cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, HbA1c, treatment, estimated glomerular filtration rate, albumin-to-creatinine ratio, and AST. These results were confirmed in IDNT. This study indicates an independent inverse association of bilirubin with progression of nephropathy in RENAAL and IDNT. These data suggest a protective effect of bilirubin against progression of nephropathy in type 2 diabetes. The well-established role of bilirubin as an antioxidant is a potential explanation for the findings.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db13-1652/-/DC1.
See accompanying article, p. 2613.
- Received October 24, 2013.
- Accepted March 24, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association. Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered.