OBJECTIVESRenal dysfunction has been reported in normoalbuminuric patients, demonstrating the necessity to improve the diagnostic and prognostic tools for diabetic kidney disease (DKD) investigation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate whether the urinary levels of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) and kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1) are increased in type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) patients with normal or mildly increased albuminuria.DESIGN AND METHODSIn this study, 117 type 2 DM patients classified into three groups according to urinary albumin/creatinine ratio (uACR): uACR<10mg/g creatinine, uACR 10-30mg/g creatinine and uACR>30mg/g creatinine were enrolled. Urinary concentrations of KIM-1 (uKIM-1) and NGAL (uNGAL) were measured.RESULTSuKIM-1 levels increased progressively from uACR<10mg/g creatinine (69.0±20.8pg/ml) to uACR 10-30mg/g creatinine (106.1±41.2pg/ml) and to uACR>30mg/g creatinine (166.0±31.9pg/ml) (P<0.001). In addition, uNGAL levels increased progressively from uACR<10mg/g creatinine (29.5±8.8ng/ml) to uACR 10-30mg/g creatinine (51.7±10.9ng/ml) and to uACR>30mg/g creatinine (71.0±9.6ng/ml) (P<0.001) patients. Similarly, both uKIM-1 and uNGAL adjusted by urinary creatinine were increased in patients with uACR 10-30mg/g creatinine. Significant and positive correlations were observed between uACR, uKIM-1 and uNGAL.CONCLUSIONSuKIM-1 and uNGAL were increased in type 2 DM patients with normal or mildly increased albuminuria, which indicates that tubular and glomerular injuries may be occurring even at the earliest stage of DKD.