Diabetes mellitus is one of the most challenging health concerns of the 21st century. With at least 30% of the diabetic population remaining undiagnosed, effective and early diagnosis is of critical concern. Development of a diagnostic test, more convenient and reliable than those currently used, would therefore be highly beneficial. Urine as a diagnostic medium allows for non-invasive detection of biomarkers, including some associated with type 2 diabetes and its complications. This review provides a synopsis of those urinary biomarkers that potentially may provide a basis for the development of improved diagnostic tests. Three main pathways for the sourcing of potential makers are identified: kidney damage, oxidative stress and low-grade inflammation including atherosclerosis/vascular damage. This review briefly presents each pathway and some of the most relevant urinary biomarkers that may be used to monitor the development or progression of diabetes and its complications. In particular, biomarkers of renal dysfunction such as transferrin, type IV collagen and N-acetyl-β-D-glucosaminidase might prove to be more sensitive than urinary albumin, the current gold standard, in the detection of incipient nephropathy and risk assessment of cardiovascular disease. Inflammatory markers including orosomucoid, tumour necrosis factor-α, transforming growth factor-β, vascular endothelial growth factor and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, as well as oxidative stress markers such as 8-hydroxy-2′deoxyguanosine may also be useful biomarkers for diagnosis or monitoring of diabetic complications, particularly kidney disease. However, the sensitivity of these markers compared with albumin requires further investigation.
- Type 2 diabetes