Dr. Joshua Barzilay with Kaiser Permanente of Georgia and Emory School of Medicine, Dr. Lenore Launer with the National Institute on Aging and colleagues reported the first documented connection between the presence of urinary proteins produced by albuminuria in diabetics as an indicator of the potential for cognitive decline associated with diabetes in the Aug. 29, 2013, issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Albuminuria is a kidney complication that is common in people with diabetes and is characterized by protein excretion in the urine.
The researchers examined 2,977 diabetics with an average age of 62 years for six years. The participants were checked for protein in their urine produced by albuminuria and underwent testing that evaluated their mental processing capacity and verbal memory repeatedly over the course of the study.
People that demonstrated persistent albuminuria for four to five years had a greater decline in information processing speed than the participants that did not experience albuminuria.
The cumulative effect of albuminuria over time may not be noticeable in any single year but was shown by the researchers to produce clinically apparent cognitive decline between the ages of 75 and 80.
The simple test for the proteins produced by albuminuria can allow for planning and possible treatment for cognitive decline.