Evidence is emerging that exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is a risk factor for obesity-related diseases and for diabetes mellitus (DM). We found that POPs could be measured by a cell-based arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-dependent reporter assay. We tested if serum AhR transactivating (AHRT) activities are a risk factor for diabetic nephropathy in people with type 2 diabetes.Materials and Methods:
We enrolled diabetic patients with normoalbuminuria (n = 36), microalbuminuria (n = 29), macroalbuminuria (n = 8) and end-stage renal disease (n = 31). Sera were tested for their AHRT activities, which were standardized by an AhR ligand, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and expressed as TCDD equivalents (TCDDeq pmol/L).Results:
Mean serum AHRT activities were higher in patients with microalbuminuria (40.1 ± 7.1 pmol/L), macroalbuminuria (37.4 ± 5.5 pmol/L) and end-stage renal disease (59.1 ± 20.0 pmol/L) than in subjects with normoalbuminuria (12.7 ± 5.4 pmol/L; P < 0.05 for all comparisons). Serum AhR ligands showed a correlation with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR; r = −0.663, P < 0.001), serum creatinine level (r = 0.635, P < 0.001), systolic blood pressure (r = 0.223, P = 0.026), glycated hemoglobim (r = 0.339, P < 0.001) and diabetic duration (r = 0.394, P < 0.001). In a multiple regression analysis, diabetic nephropathy was found to be an independent risk factor for higher AHRT activity after controlling for the confounding factors.Conclusions:
The present findings suggest serum AHRT activity, thus serum AhR ligands, is a risk factor for diabetic nephropathy. Further studies are required to clarify if an accumulation of POPs in the body is causally related to diabetic nephropathy.