Open Access Research article

Association between microalbuminuria and subclinical atherosclerosis evaluated by carotid artery intima-media in elderly patients with normal renal function

XiangLei Kong2, XiaoYan Jia2, Yong Wei2, MeiYu Cui2, ZunSong Wang2, LiJun Tang2, WenBin Li2, ZhuXian Zhu2, Ping Chen2 and DongMei Xu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nephrology, Qianfoshan Hospital, Shandong University, Jinan, China

2 Department of Nephrology, Qianfoshan Hospital, Shandong University, No.16766, Jingshi Road, Jinan, 250014, People's Republic of China

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BMC Nephrology 2012, 13:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-37

Published: 11 June 2012



Moderate to severe renal insufficiency and albuminuria have been shown to be independent risk factors for atherosclerosis. However, little is known about the direct association between subclinical atherosclerosis evaluated by carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and microalbuminuria in elderly patients with normal renal function.


Subjects were 272 elderly patients (age  ≥ 60 years) with normoalbuminuria (n = 238) and microalbuminuria (n = 34). Carotid IMT was measured by means of high-resolution B-mode ultrasonography. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73 m2 was defined as normal renal function. Those who had macroalbuminuria and atherosclerotic vascular disease were not included.


Compared to subjects with normoalbuminuria, subjects with microalbuminuria had higher mean carotid IMT (1.02 ± 0.38 vs. 0.85 ± 0.28 mm; P < 0.01) and maximal IMT (1.86 ± 0.86 vs. 1.60 ± 0.73 mm; P = 0.06). By a multiple linear regression, microalbuminuria positively correlated with mean carotid IMT after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors including age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, total cholesterol, pulse pressure, waist circumference, serum uric acid. As a categorical outcome, the prevalence of the highest mean cariotid IMT quartile (increased IMT ≥ 1.05 mm) was compared with the lower three quartiles. After adjusted for potential confounders, microalbuminuria was associated with increased carotid IMT, with an odds ratio of 2.95 [95 % confidence interval, 1.22 – 7.10]. eGFR was not significantly associated with mean carotid IMT in our analysis.


A slight elevation of albuminuria is a significant determinant of carotid IMT independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors in our patients. Our study further confirms the importance of intensive examinations for the early detection of atherosclerosis when microalbuminuria is found in elderly patients, although with normal renal function.

Microalbuminuria; atherosclerosis; intima-media thickness; glomerular filtration rate