Subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) may be independently associated with diabetic nephropathy in patients with diabetes mellitus, according to a Japanese study.

Shinya Furukawa, MD, PhD, of Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine in Ehime, and collaborators studied 414 patients with type 2 diabetes and no history of thyroid disease. Investigators measured serum thyroid hormone levels and urinary albumin:creatinine ratio. They defined SCH as an elevated level of thyroid-stimulating hormone and diabetic nephropathy as creatinine levels of 300 mg/g or higher. Of the 414 patients, 36 (8.7%) had SCH. The prevalence of diabetic nephropathy was significantly greater in the SCH than the euthyroid group (16.7% vs. 6.1%).

On multivariate analysis, SCH was associated with a 3.5 times increased odds of diabetic nephropathy and a 4.6 times increased odds of hypertension, the researchers reported online ahead of print in the Endocrine Journal. SCH was not independently associated with chronic kidney disease.

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“These findings imply that SCH may be a new therapeutic target to prevent the development and progression of renal disease in diabetes patients,” the authors concluded. “Thyroid function screening should be offered to diabetes patients with diabetic nephropathy.”