Renal disease in patients with Type II diabetes is the leading cause of terminal renal failure and a major healthcare problem. Hence early identification of patients prone to develop this complication is important. Diabetic renal damage should be reflected by a change in urinary polypeptide excretion at a very early stage. To analyse these changes, we used an online combination of CE/MS (capillary electrophoresis coupled with MS), allowing fast and accurate evaluation of up to 2000 polypeptides in urine. Employing this technology, we have examined urine samples from 39 healthy individuals and from 112 patients with Type II diabetes mellitus and different degrees of albumin excretion rate. We established a ‘normal’ polypeptide pattern in the urine of healthy subjects. In patients with Type II diabetes and normal albumin excretion rate, the polypeptide pattern in urine differed significantly from normal, indicating a specific ‘diabetic’ pattern of polypeptide excretion. In patients with higher grade albuminuria, we were able to detect a polypeptide pattern indicative of ‘diabetic renal damage’. We also found this pattern in 35% of those patients who had low-grade albuminuria and in 4% of patients with normal albumin excretion. Moreover, we could identify several of the indicative polypeptides using MS/MS sequencing. We conclude that proteomic analysis with CE/MS permits fast and accurate identification and differentiation of polypeptide patterns in urine. Longitudinal studies should explore the potential of this powerful diagnostic tool for early detection of diabetic renal damage.

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