Journal of Diabetes Research

Journal of Diabetes Research / 2013 / Article

Clinical Study | Open Access

Volume 2013 |Article ID 967097 |

Feng Bai, Fang-fang Jiang, Jun-jie Lu, Shao-gang Ma, Yi-gen Peng, Yue Jin, Wei Xu, Jian-ping Cheng, Hai-feng Wu, "The Impact of Hyperglycemic Emergencies on the Kidney and Liver", Journal of Diabetes Research, vol. 2013, Article ID 967097, 8 pages, 2013.

The Impact of Hyperglycemic Emergencies on the Kidney and Liver

Academic Editor: Giuseppe Paolisso
Received18 Jul 2013
Revised04 Sep 2013
Accepted19 Sep 2013
Published24 Oct 2013


Studies on the alterations of liver and kidney function parameters in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and diabetic ketosis (DK) were limited. Participants with DKA, DK, non-DK, and healthy controls were enrolled in the current study. Parameters of liver and kidney function were measured and evaluated. The patients with DKA had higher levels of plasma glucose, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), uric acid, and creatinine but lower levels of transferases and protein compared with the other three groups ( for all). The patients with DK had higher levels of plasma glucose and HbA1c but lower levels of glutamyl transpeptidase and protein compared with the non-DK and control groups ( ). Prealbumin levels were significantly reduced in the severe DKA patients compared with the mild/moderate DKA patients. Serum prealbumin levels were correlated with albumin levels ( , ), HCO3 ( , ), and arterial pH ( , ) in the DKA patients. A diagnostic analysis showed that lower prealbumin levels significantly reflected the presence of hyperglycemic emergencies ( ). Liver and kidney function parameters deteriorated, especially in DKA. Prealbumin levels can be of value in detecting the presence of hyperglycemic crisis. This clinical trial is registered with ChiCTR-OCH-12003077.

1. Introduction

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and diabetic ketosis (DK) are common and serious complications of diabetes mellitus. DKA most often occurs in patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D). However, increasing evidence indicates that DKA and DK are also common features of ketosis-prone type 2 diabetes (T2D) [1]. In addition, patients with T2D are susceptible to DKA under stressful and infectious conditions. DKA in patients with T2D is a more severe disease, with worse outcomes, compared with concomitant DKA and T1D [2]. However, DKA patients with either T2D or T1D require timely treatment. Delays in the diagnosis and treatment of DKA can lead to increased risks of advanced complications and 30-day mortality [3].

Previous studies in the field of DKA have paid much attention to proinflammatory cytokines, whereas clinical parameters of liver and kidney function have not been well characterized [4, 5]. Tests of hepatic function include assessments of albumin, prealbumin, bilirubin, and enzyme levels. Increased levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and γ-glutamyl transferase (GGT) are associated with T2D incidence [6, 7]. Few studies have focused on the detection of these reliable molecules. These parameters are routinely detected in diabetic emergencies but do not receive attention from clinicians. Elevations of serum creatinine, uric acid, and potassium levels have been observed in patients with DKA [8, 9]. The influence of DKA and DK on liver and kidney function-related variables has not been well characterized and is thus poorly understood.

Prealbumin, a marker for protein malnutrition, has been advocated as a useful marker for predicting gastric surgery complications, cardiovascular outcome, and mortality in diabetic hemodialysis patients [10, 11]. To our knowledge, there is no available study on the patterns or prognostic value of prealbumin levels in patients with DKA and DK. Accordingly, we aimed to evaluate changes in prealbumin levels and their diagnostic value in reflecting the severity of hyperglycemic emergencies. It should be stressed that previous studies only provided limited information and did not characterize the correlation with hyperglycemic crises [5, 10, 11]. The current study was performed due to limitations of the existing data in the literature. In particular, this study addressed whether kidney function increases or hepatic function decreases. The detection of kidney-liver function parameters will be helpful not only for early assessment but also for determining the prognosis of diabetes mellitus with hyperglycemic crisis.

2. Methods

2.1. Patient Recruitment and Exclusion Criteria

This study was performed in the endocrinology and emergency departments of two medical college-affiliated hospitals from October 2012 to March 2013 in accordance with the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki (2001). Ethical approval was obtained from the Ethical Committees of Xuzhou Medical College and Nanchang University. Written informed consent was obtained from all of the participants.

A total of 40 consecutive patients with DKA (DKA group), 40 patients with DK (DK group), 40 diabetic patients in stable condition (non-DK group), and 40 normal control subjects (control group) participated in the study (Table 1). The DKA group included 19 T1D and 21 T2D patients. Patients with DKA had a plasma glucose level > 13.90 mmol/L, a urine ketone level defined as moderate to high (+ to +++), and an arterial pH value < 7.30 at the time of admission. The criteria for DKA severity were as follows, as previously described: mild, 7.20 ≤ pH < 7.30; moderate, 7.10 ≤ pH < 7.20; and severe, pH < 7.10 [4, 12, 13].

( )
Stable patient
( )
Total DK, before
( )
Total DKA, before
( )
Total DK, after
( )
Total DKA, after
( )

Female/male ( )20/2017/2314/2622/18
Age (years)
Diabetic type (1/2)N/A17/2318/2219/21
Duration of diabetes (years) N/A 4.00 (0.00–20.00) (0.00–12.00) (0.00–26.00)
Plasma glucose (mmol/L)
HbA1c (%)
Alanine aminotransferase (U/L)
Aspartate aminotransferase (U/L)
-glutamyl transpeptidase (U/L)
Total bilirubin (μmol/L)
Direct bilirubin (μmol/L)
Total protein (g/L)
Albumin (g/L)
Globulin (g/L)
Prealbumin (mg/L)
Serum creatinine (μmol/L)
eGFR (mL/min per 1.73 m2)
Uric acid (μmol/L)

Comparison with control group: , ; comparison with stable DM group: , ; comparison with total DK group: , ; comparison with pretreatment: , . All values in the table are given as the mean ± standard deviation, except for the duration of diabetes, which is given as the median and range (min–max).

The participants underwent a routine medical examination. None of the subjects had heart failure, hematologic disease, or liver or kidney dysfunction. Their previous liver or kidney dysfunctions were within normal range, and none of the patients were taking steroids. The non-DK and control subjects did not have fatty livers. The DKA, DK, and non-DK patients received medical treatment in the form of nutrition, oral hypoglycemic agents, and insulin therapy. Patients with DKA and DK were monitored until their ketosis and/or acidosis resolved.

2.2. Biochemical Assays

Blood samples from the control and non-DK groups were collected into Vacutainer tubes by venipuncture after an overnight fast. In the DKA and DK groups, the blood samples were drawn both at admission, before the initial therapy, and at the time of discharge from the hospital.

Laboratory tests, including routine biochemistry tests, were performed using routine laboratory methods for such serum parameters as albumin, ALT, AST, bilirubin, creatinine, prealbumin, and uric acid levels. Blood samples were collected into tubes for kidney-liver function tests and immediately processed using an Olympus AU 2700 autoanalyzer (Olympus, Tokyo, Japan). Arterial gas analyses were performed using commercial kits and a GEM Premier 3000 (Instrumentation Laboratory, USA). Glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels were measured using an HbA1c meter from Bio-Rad Laboratories, Ltd. (Shanghai, China). The estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR) was calculated by using the estimating equation from Chinese patients with CKD [14].

2.3. Statistical Methods

The results are expressed as the mean ± SD for quantitative variables with normal distributions. Skewed parameters are presented as the median and range (min–max). Pairwise comparisons of the four groups were performed using the Tukey and Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric ANOVA tests. A Mann-Whitney U analysis was used as the nonparametric test for the two subgroups. Chi-squared tests were utilized for the comparison of other clinical features. Correlations between the observed variables were analyzed by Pearson’s correlation test. The risk markers for the diagnosis of DKA and DK were assessed by multiple logistic regression analyses. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses were performed to determine the diagnostic performance of each variable. Statistical analyses were conducted with the SPSS 18.0 software (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL) and MedCalc version A two-tailed value < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

3. Results

3.1. Baseline Clinical and Laboratory Characteristics

The baseline demographic and clinical characteristics of the subjects are shown in Table 1. A total of 160 cases were included in this study. Regarding age, gender, and diabetic type, there were no significant differences. There were 15 patients with mild DKA, 10 patients with moderate DKA, and 15 patients with severe DKA. The glycemic variables (plasma glucose and HbA1c levels) had significantly higher values in the three diabetic patient groups than in the control group ( ). The glycemic variables had higher values in the DKA and DK groups than in the non-DK group ( ). The difference in the duration of diabetes reached statistical significance ( ).

The differences in the kidney-liver function values among the four groups were statistically significant ( ). This study demonstrated that most of the liver function-related concentrations were significantly lower in DKA patients compared with the other three groups ( or ). Serum creatinine and uric acid levels were significantly elevated in the DKA patients ( ). Accordingly, the eGFR levels were significantly elevated in the DKA patients ( ). However, the levels of AST and bilirubin were not different among the four groups. Of all of the liver function parameters in DK patients, the levels of GGT, total protein, albumin, globulin, and prealbumin were significantly lower than in patients with stable diabetes and control subjects ( and , resp.). These results are shown in Table 1.

As shown in Table 2, the DKA patients were divided into T1D and T2D subgroups. Plasma glucose levels at the time of admission were significantly higher in the patients with T1D compared with the patients with T2D (  mmol/L versus  mmol/L, ). In addition, the patients with T2D were older than the patients with T1D ( years versus years, ). The levels of prealbumin were similar between the T1D and the T2D cases ( ). No significant differences were observed regarding the other parameters.

VariablesT1D ( )T2D ( ) value

Female/male ( )13/69/120.105
Age (years) 0.001
Duration of diabetes (years)7.00 (0.00–26.00)5.00 (0.00–15.00)0.455
Plasma glucose (mmol/L) 0.035
HbA1c (%) 0.214
Arterial pH 0.486
HCO3 (mmol/L) 0.420
Alanine aminotransferase (U/L) 0.880
Aspartate aminotransferase (U/L) 0.782
-glutamyl transpeptidase (U/L) 0.643
Total bilirubin (μmol/L) 0.843
Direct bilirubin (μmol/L) 0.597
Total protein (g/L) 0.632
Albumin (g/L) 0.463
Globulin (g/L) 0.061
Prealbumin (mg/dL) 0.775
Serum creatinine (μmol/L) 0.399
eGFR (mL/min per 1.73 m2) 0.490
Uric acid (μmol/L) 0.746

All values in the table are given as the mean ± standard deviation, except for the duration of diabetes, which is given as the median and range (min–max).

As in Table 3, the DK and DKA patients were divided into infection and noninfection subgroups, respectively. The infection subgroup contained more female cases and older individuals ( ). Among DK patients, the infection subgroup had significantly lower levels of albumin and ALT ( and , resp.). However, among DKA patients, protein levels related to kidney-liver function were similar in both subgroups. Furthermore, there was no difference in the prealbumin levels of the two subgroups.

VariablesNoninfection DK
( )
Infection DK
( )
valueNoninfection DKA
( )
Infection DKA
( )

Female/male ( )6/208/60.0318/1314/50.020
Age (years) 0.050 0.022
Duration of diabetes (years)0.00 (0.00–8.00)1.00 (0.00–12.00)0.2944.00 (0.00–26.00)7.00 (0.00–18.00)0.141
Plasma glucose (mmol/L) 0.136 0.010
HbA1c (%) 0.943 0.659
Arterial pH 0.142 0.747
HCO3 (mmol/L) 0.491 0.279
Alanine aminotransferase (U/L) 0.001 0.673
Aspartate aminotransferase (U/L) 0.382 0.604
-glutamyl transpeptidase (U/L) 0.948 0.306
Total bilirubin (μmol/L) 0.175 0.806
Direct bilirubin (μmol/L) 0.394 0.500
Total protein (g/L) 0.220 0.547
Albumin (g/L) 0.016 0.062
Globulin (g/L) 0.208 0.806
Prealbumin (mg/dL) 0.707 0.645
Serum creatinine (μmol/L) 0.677 0.926
eGFR (mL/min per 1.73 m2) 0.136 0.413
Uric acid (μmol/L) 0.883 0.572

All values in the table are given as the mean ± standard deviation, except for the duration of diabetes, which is given as the median and range (min–max).

As shown in Table 4, there were 15 patients with severe DKA, 10 patients with moderate DKA, and 15 patients with mild DKA. The levels of arterial pH, HCO3, and prealbumin were significantly lower in the severe DKA patients compared with the mild/moderate DKA patients ( ). For the rest of the variables, there were no significant differences between the mild/moderate and severe DKA cases.

VariablesMild/moderate DKA
( )
Severe DKA
( )

Female/male ( )15/107/80.517
Age (years) 0.198
Duration of diabetes (years)8.00 (0.00–26.00)5.00 (0.00–15.00)0.134
Plasma glucose (mmol/L) 0.914
HbA1c (%) 0.837
Arterial pH <0.001
HCO3 (mmol/L) <0.001
Alanine aminotransferase (U/L) 0.445
Aspartate aminotransferase (U/L) 0.702
-glutamyl transpeptidase (U/L) 0.239
Total bilirubin (μmol/L) 0.926
Direct bilirubin (μmol/L) 0.641
Total protein (g/L) 0.838
Albumin (g/L) 0.309
Globulin (g/L) 0.686
Prealbumin (mg/dL) 0.010
Serum creatinine (μmol/L) 0.618
eGFR (mL/min per 1.73 m2) 0.906
Uric acid (μmol/L)