British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Dietary protein, blood pressure and renal function in renal transplant recipients

Else van den Berga1a2 c1, Mariëlle F. Engberinka1a3, Elizabeth J. Brinka1a4, Marleen A. van Baaka1a5, Rijk O. B. Gansa6, Gerjan Navisa2 and Stephan J. L. Bakkera1a2

a1 Top Institute Food and Nutrition, Wageningen, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Nephrology, University Medical Center Groningen, Kidney Center Groningen, PO Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands

a3 Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

a4 Pharmacokinetics and Human Studies Group, TNO, Zeist, The Netherlands

a5 Department of Human Biology, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

a6 Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands


Hypertension is highly prevalent among renal transplant recipients (RTR) and a risk factor for graft failure and cardiovascular events. Protein intake has been claimed to affect blood pressure (BP) in the general population and may affect renal function. We examined the association of dietary protein with BP and renal function in RTR. We included 625 RTR (age 53 (sd 13) years; 57 % male). Protein intake was assessed with a FFQ, differentiating between animal and plant protein. BP was measured according to a strict protocol. Creatinine clearance and albuminuria were measured as renal parameters. Protein intake was 83 (sd 12) g/d, of which 63 % derived from animal sources. BP was 136 (sd 17) mmHg systolic (SBP) and 83 (sd 11) mmHg diastolic (DBP). Creatinine clearance was 66 (sd 26) ml/min; albuminuria 41 (10–178) mg/24 h. An inverse, though statistically insignificant, association was found between the total protein intake and both SBP (β = − 2·22 mmHg per sd, P= 0·07) and DBP (β = − 0·48 mmHg per sd, P= 0·5). Protein intake was not associated with creatinine clearance. Although albuminuria was slightly higher in the highest tertile of animal protein intake compared with the lowest tertile (66 v. 33 mg/d, respectively, P= 0·03), linear regression analyses did not reveal significant associations between dietary protein and albuminuria. Protein intake exceeded the current recommendations. Nevertheless, within the range of protein intake in our RTR population, we found no evidence for an association of dietary protein with BP and renal function. Intervention studies focusing on different protein types are warranted to clarify their effect on BP and renal function in RTR.

(Received March 14 2012)

(Revised July 09 2012)

(Accepted July 09 2012)

(Online publication August 21 2012)

Key Words:

  • Protein intake;
  • Renal transplantation;
  • Blood pressure


c1 Corresponding author: E. van den Berg, fax +31 50 361 9069, email


  Abbreviations: BP, blood pressure; en%, percentage of energy; RTR, renal transplant recipients; SBP, systolic blood pressure