Understanding the kidneys' role in blood glucose regulation.

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38 Scopus citations


While not traditionally discussed, the kidneys' contributions to maintaining glucose homeostasis are significant and include such functions as release of glucose into the circulation via gluconeogenesis, uptake of glucose from the circulation to satisfy their energy needs, and reabsorption of glucose at the level of the proximal tubule. Renal release of glucose into the circulation is the result of glycogenolysis and gluconeogenesis, respectively involving the breaking down and formation of glucose-6-phosphate from precursors (eg, lactate, glycerol, amino acids). With regard to renal reabsorption of glucose, the kidneys normally retrieve as much glucose as possible, rendering the urine virtually glucose free. The glomeruli filter from plasma approximately 180 grams of D-glucose per day, all of which is reabsorbed through glucose transporter proteins that are present in cell membranes within the proximal tubules. If the capacity of these transporters is exceeded, glucose appears in the urine. The process of renal glucose reabsorption is mediated by active (sodium-coupled glucose cotransporters) and passive (glucose transporters) transporters. In hyperglycemia, the kidneys may play an exacerbating role by reabsorbing excess glucose, ultimately contributing to chronic hyperglycemia, which in turn contributes to chronic glycemic burden and the risk of microvascular consequences. This article provides an extensive review of the kidneys' role in normal human physiology, the mechanisms by which they contribute to glucose regulation, and the potential impact of glucose imbalance on the kidneys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S11-16
JournalThe American journal of managed care
Issue number1 Suppl
StatePublished - Jan 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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