Background: It is well known that serum creatinine may be used as a marker of renal function only if taking into account factors that influence creatinine production, such as age, gender, and weight. Serum cystatin C has been proposed as a potentially superior marker than serum creatinine, because serum cystatin C level is believed to be produced at a constant rate and not to be affected by such factors. However, there are limited data on factors that may influence serum cystatin C levels, and there are limited data comparing cystatin C-based estimates of renal function with creatinine-based estimates that adjust for such factors, especially in individuals with normal, or mildly reduced, renal function.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 8058 inhabitants of the city of Groningen, The Netherlands, 28 to 75 years of age. Serum cystatin C and serum creatinine levels were measured, and creatinine clearance was determined from the average of two separate 24-hour urine collections. We performed multivariate analyses to identify factors independently associated with serum cystatin C levels after adjusting for creatinine clearance. Then, partial Spearman correlations were obtained after adjusting for factors that may influence serum cystatin C and creatinine levels. We also compared the goodness-of-fit (R(2)) of different multivariate linear regression models including serum cystatin C level and serum creatinine level for the outcome of creatinine clearance.
Results: Older age, male gender, greater weight, greater height, current cigarette smoking, and higher serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were independently associated with higher serum cystatin C levels after adjusting for creatinine clearance. After adjusting for age, weight, and gender, the partial Spearman correlations between creatinine and, respectively, serum cystatin C level and serum creatinine level were -0.29 (P < 0.001) and -0.42 (P < 0.001), respectively. The R(2) values for serum cystatin C level and serum creatinine level adjusted for age, weight, and gender were 0.38 and 0.42, respectively. The addition of cigarette smoking and serum CRP levels did not improve the R(2) value for the multivariate serum cystatin C-based model.
Conclusion: Serum cystatin C appears to be influenced by factors other than renal function alone. In addition, we found no evidence that multivariate serum cystatin C-based estimates of renal function are superior to multivariate serum creatinine-based estimates.