In previous studies in the Sprague-Dawley rat, Williams and coworkers reported the phenomenon of selective urinary excretion of glucosylated albumin (editing, i.e., the percent glucosylation of urinary albumin is more than that of plasma albumin) by the mammalian kidney. Ghiggeri and coworkers subsequently found that the extent of editing is reduced in human diabetics. Moreover, the reduction in editing in diabetes correlates inversely with levels of microalbuminuria. We also find reduction in the extent of editing in diabetic humans. We find a striking inverse correlation not only with the magnitude of microalbuminuria but also with the extent of plasma albumin glucosylation. In contrast, we found little correlation between the reduction in editing and the duration of diabetes in human subjects. Stz induced diabetes in the Sprague-Dawley rat is associated with a striking and rapid reduction in editing which develops virtually with the same kinetics exhibited by the appearance of hyperglycemia. This loss of editing is rapidly reversed by daily administration of insulin but not by aldose reductase inhibitors. Mannitol infusion in anesthetized Wistar rats resulted in an increase in urine volume, GFR, and microalbuminuria, and was also accompanied by a marked reduction in editing. This reduction was rapidly reversed by a cessation of mannitol infusion. We propose here that glucosylated albumin (in contrast to unmodified albumin) is not reabsorbed by the proximal tubule, and thus, is preferentially excreted in the urine. We postulate that the increase in GFR which emerges as a consequence of increased plasma osmolality in diabetes mellitus delivers more albumin to the proximal tubule than can be reabsorbed. This results in a dilution of excreted glucosylated albumin molecules by excreted unmodified albumin, which appears as the early microscopic albuminuria of diabetes. Paradoxically, the fall in apparent editing is accompanied by an absolute increase in the total quantity of glucosylated albumin excreted. In contrast, we found that editing of glucosylated albumin by the normal kidney is found to gradually decline as a function of age without the appearance of microalbuminuria. This suggests that a different mechanism operates to produce the loss of editing seen with aging in man, and as clearly (but in a shorter absolute time intervals) in the Fischer-344 rat.

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