Age-related decline in urine concentration may not be universal: Comparative study from the U.S. and two small-scale societies

Asher Y. Rosinger, Herman Pontzer, David A. Raichlen, Brian M. Wood, Susan N. Tanner, Jeff M. Sands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: Evidence from industrialized populations suggests that urine concentrating ability declines with age. However, lifestyle factors including episodic protein intake and low hypertension may help explain differences between populations. Whether this age-related decline occurs among small-scale populations with active lifestyles and non-Western diets is unknown. We test the universality of age-related urine concentration decline. Materials and Methods: We used urine specific gravity (Usg) and urine osmolality (Uosm) data from 15,055 U.S. nonpregnant adults without kidney failure aged 18–80 in 2007–2012 participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We tested the relationship of age on urine concentration biomarkers with multiple linear regressions using survey commands. We compared results to longitudinal data on Usg from 116 Tsimane’ forager-horticulturalists (266 observations) adults aged 18–83 in 2013–2014 from Lowland Bolivia, and to 38 Hadza hunter-gatherers (156 observations) aged 18–75 in 2010–2015 from Tanzania using random-effects panel linear regressions. Results: Among U.S. adults, age was significantly negatively associated with Usg (Adjusted beta [B] = −0.0009 g/mL/10 years; SE = 0.0001; p < 0.001) and Uosm (B = −28.1 mOsm/kg/10 yr; SE = 2.4; p < 0.001). In contrast, among Tsimane’ (B = 0.0003 g/mL/10 yr; SE = 0.0002; p = 0.16) and Hadza (B = −0.0004 g/mL/10 yr; SE = 0.0004; p = 0.29) age was not associated with Usg. Older Tsimane’ and Hadza exhibited similar within-individual variability in Usg equivalent to younger adults. Discussion: While U.S. adults exhibited age-related declines in urine concentration, Tsimane’ and Hadza adults did not exhibit the same statistical decline in Usg. Mismatches between evolved physiology and modern environments in lifestyle may affect kidney physiology and disease risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)705-716
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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