Background and method: We investigated whether chronic kidney disease detected by increased serum creatinine (SCr) or urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) may reflect arteriosclerosis involving the kidneys. The sample consisted of 1585 members of sibships (804 non-Hispanic whites and 781 non-Hispanic blacks) in which at least two siblings had primary hypertension. We first evaluated the correlations of increased SCr and UACR with the presence of cerebral small vessel arteriosclerosis, which was determined by increased subcortical white matter hyperintensity (WMH) volume on brain magnetic resonance imaging; and with peripheral large vessel arteriosclerosis, which was determined by decreased ankle-brachial index (ABI). After age adjustment, increased SCr and UACR correlated with increased WMH volume (0.54 and 0.52, respectively) and with decreased ABI (0.50 and 0.54, respectively; all P < 0.001). We then used logistic regression to evaluate the dependency of each measure of disease on conventional risk factors for arteriosclerosis to assess whether the risk factors’ effects were proportional across different measures of disease.
Results: Age, race, sex, hypertension, diabetes, total cholesterol, and smoking made similar overall contributions to the prediction of each measure of disease, as judged by the model C-statistics, which varied in a narrow range from 0.84 to 0.85 (all P < 0.001). However, the relative contributions that the modifiable risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, total cholesterol, and smoking made to prediction of increased SCr and UACR were disproportionate to their relative contributions to prediction of decreased ABI (P < 0.0001).
Conclusion: The findings support the view that chronic kidney disease detected by increased SCr or UACR primarily reflects small vessel arteriosclerosis involving the kidneys.