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Is the Presence of Microalbuminuria a Relevant Marker of Kidney Disease?


Levels of urinary albumin excretion that are below the usual limit of detection by qualitative testing, but are above normal levels (microalbuminuria; MA), can be readily identified by simple measures, such as the urinary albumin to creatinine ratio in untimed urine samples. Such measurements, particularly when combined with assessment of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), have utility as biomarkers for enhanced risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular events, progressive chronic kidney disease, and end-stage renal disease in diabetic and nondiabetic subjects. However, it is controversial whether “isolated” MA (MA in the absence of a clear reduction in eGFR, urine sediment abnormalities, or structural renal disease) should be regarded as kidney disease. Such MA could also be regarded as a manifestation of a diffuse endothelial (microvascular) injury and thereby collateral kidney damage. This article reviews the current evidence concerning MA as a marker of kidney disease or kidney damage.

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