Background: Individuals with metabolic syndrome have elevated risks of micro- and macro-albuminuria as well as chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Objective: To assess the influence of metabolic abnormalities on the presence of low-grade albuminuria (below the threshold for microalbuminuria).

Design, participants, and main outcome measures: This community-based cohort study included 3,935 eligible individuals aged 40 years or older. The presence of low-grade albuminuria was detected in those without micro- or macro-albuminuria and analyzed according to the highest quartile of the baseline urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR ≥11.13 mg/g). CKD was defined by an estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2 or the new presence of albuminuria (ACR ≥30 mg/g).

Results: Overall, 577 (14.7%) participants developed low-grade albuminuria and 164 (4.2%) participants developed CKD during a mean follow-up period of 3.6 years. Compared with participants without metabolic syndrome, those with metabolic syndrome had greater risks of low-grade albuminuria [adjusted odd ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.30 (1.05–1.61)] and CKD [1.71 (1.20–2.44)]. Moreover, the incidence rates of low-grade albuminuria and CKD increased as the number of metabolic syndrome components increased (P for trend <0.0001).

Conclusions: The presence of metabolic syndrome is associated with increased incidence rates of low-grade albuminuria and CKD the middle-aged and elderly Chinese populations.