Researchers Find a New Way to Detect Kidney Damage in Kids with Type 1

They uncover two proteins that would detect nephropathy before a urine test would detect damage.



By many estimates, some 20 percent to 40 percent of people with diabetes will experience kidney damage (nephropathy) because of diabetes. Normally, nephropathy is detected through urine tests that reveal abnormal amounts of albumin, a protein made in the liver.

Read more: Many children with Type 1 experience kidney injury after DKA.

There may be a better way, however. According to a Healio report, researchers have found that children with Type 1 diabetes possess two proteins that can serve as biomarkers for nephropathy long before the condition can be detected by a urine test. Because nephropathy can lead to kidney failure or even death, it’s vital that it be detected and treated as early as possible.


This news came from the presentation of a small study presented at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo. The study was conducted by researchers connected with the Agatha Sophia Children’s hospital in Athens, Greece and involved 56 pediatric patients with Type 1 diabetes ages 9 to 15 years old and 49 pediatric patients without diabetes, ages 6 to 19 years old.

Read more: There’s life after kidney failure. 

The researchers measured the blood levels of two different proteins, Growth Differentiation Factor-15 (GDF-15) and Chitinase-3-Like-Protein 1 (YKL-40). Twelve to fifteen months later, researchers then evaluated kidney function in both groups. At the beginning of the study, both groups had similar GDF-15 levels, but at the follow-up those with diabetes had significantly higher levels of GDF-15 levels and YKL-40 levels. The researchers then observed reduced kidney function in the children with diabetes, and hypothesized that the two proteins were biomarkers for early-stage kidney damage.


A diagnosis of nephropathy is rare in children with diabetes; one recent study put the rate of children with diabetes who are diagnosed with the condition at 3.44 percent using current diagnostic tools. However, since nephropathy is fairly common in adults with diabetes, it would be invaluable to catch kidney damage and start treatment as soon as possible.

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Kate Doughty is a third-year student at the University of Virginia, where she is studying English with an area concentration in literary prose. She can be reached at kdoughty@epscomm.com.