HDL May Protect Kidneys in Patients with Diabetes

Published Online: Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Researchers from Northwestern University (Chicago, Ill) report that higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the "good" cholesterol, are associated with a lower risk of protein in the urine (albuminuria), a sign of kidney disease, in patients with type 1 diabetes. The findings were published in the January edition of Diabetes Care.

The cholesterol profiles of 107 patients who had type 1 diabetes for at least 20 years were analyzed. Forty-two patients had albuminuria, and 65 did not. Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride levels were all similar in both sets of patients. HDL levels, however, were significantly lower in patients with albuminuria, compared with those without the condition. When the age, sex, duration, and degree of patients' diabetes were taken into account, the odds of having albuminuria were cut in half for every 21- mg/dL increase in HDL.

Whether the higher HDL is protective of the patients' kidneys, or whether it reflects some other mechanism, is unknown, researchers said. They agree that this is a "very preliminary report that needs confirmation in larger numbers of patients."

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