- Kidneys play an important role in retinol turnover. We postulated that retinol homeostasis is disturbed in diabetic nephropathy. The aim of this research was to study the effect of kidney impairment on urinary excretion and on serum concentrations of retinol in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. For this purpose, 41 type 2 diabetes patients and 9 sex -and age-matched healthy subjects were enrolled. Serum and urinary retinol and retinol-binding protein (RBP) were assessed by high-pressure liquid chromatography and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. The study showed that 17 out of 41 diabetic patients (41.5%) and none of the controls excreted retinol in urine (P < 0.02). Retinol excretion in the urine in these patients was 1.5-fold more prevalent than hypercreatininemia. Urinary retinol significantly correlated with clinically diagnosed nephropathy (P = 0.02). All but one of the patients with hypercreatininemia excreted retinol in the urine. Serum retinol and RBP in patients with hypercreatininemia were higher than in controls (P < 0.002). Values of urinary retinol, unlike urinary RBP, albumin and total protein, did not overlap between patients and controls. Our results indicate that (i) urinary retinol is a specific sign of tubular damage in type 2 diabetic patients and (ii) urinary retinol enables a more clear-cut identification of proximal tubule dysfunction in type 2 diabetes patients than urinary RBP or albumin.