Revisiting glomerular hyperfiltration and examining the concept of high dietary protein-related nephropathy in athletes and bodybuilders

Eunjung Cho, Soo Jeong Choi, Duk Hee Kang, Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, Gang Jee Ko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose of reviewHigh-protein diets (HPDs) are popular but their consequences for kidney health, especially among athletes and bodybuilders who typically maintain a high protein intake for a long time, have not been investigated. This review focused on recent studies of the association of HPD with long-term kidney health and the concept of high dietary protein-related nephropathy.Recent findingsSeveral long-term observational studies including large populations have reinforced the notion that HPDs are associated with a rapid decline of kidney function. An increase in renal blood flow and glomerular hyperfiltration caused by vasodilation, and increased levels of endocrine and paracrine factors (glucagon, IGF-1, prostanoids, and nitric oxide), facilitates the excretion of protein-derived nitrogenous waste. Inhibition of tubule-glomerular feedback and increased proximal tubular Na+reabsorption after a HPD augment glomerular hyperfiltration and may trigger synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines and receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE). Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis reported in association with anabolic steroid may indeed be a HPD nephropathy given that HPD results in progressive glomerulosclerosis, especially in remnant glomeruli or in diabetic kidney disease but can happen in any high-risk situation, such as solitary kidney and polycystic kidneys.SummaryHPD among athletes and bodybuilders in an extreme way across a long-term period may pose a risk to renal health including high incidence of HPD nephropathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

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  • anabolic steroid nephropathy
  • glomerular hyperfiltration
  • high protein-induced nephropathy
  • kidney health


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