Issue: 2013 > November > review

Current concepts in the management of diabetic nephropathy

F. Waanders, F.W. Visser, R.O.B. Gans


Although much progress has been made in slowing the
progression of diabetic nephropathy, renal dysfunction
and development of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) remain major concerns in diabetes. In addition, diabetic patients with microalbuminuria have an increased cardiovascular mortality. Therefore, new treatment modalities or strategies are needed to prevent or slow the progression of diabetic nephropathy and prevent cardiovascular disease in diabetes. In this review we describe current concepts in pathophysiology, treatment goals and we discuss future developments in the treatment of diabetic nephropathy. Common risk factors for diabetic nephropathy and its progression are longer duration, poor glycaemic control, hypertension and the presence of albuminuria. Available treatment options, especially renin-angiotensin aldosterone system (RAAS) blockade, but also better blood pressure and blood glucose control, decrease the incidence of cardiovascular
disease and renal disease in diabetes. It is important that
treatment goals are tailored to the individual patient with
individual treatment goals of glycaemic control and blood
pressure, depending on age, type of diabetes and diabetes duration. Aggressive treatment of glucose control and blood pressure might not always be best practice for every patient. Since the proportion of ESRD due to diabetic nephropathy remains high, optimisation of RAAS blockade is advocated and can be achieved by adequate sodium restriction and/or diuretic treatment. Moreover, aldosterone blockade might be a valuable strategy, which has potency to slow the progression of
diabetic renal disease. Other possible future interventions are under investigation, but large clinical trials have to be awaited to confirm the safety and efficacy of these drugs.