Measurement of urinary N-acetyl-b-D-glucosaminidase in adult patients with cystic fibrosis: before, during and after treatment with intravenous antibiotics

J Cyst Fibros. 2007 Jan;6(1):67-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2006.05.013. Epub 2006 Jul 17.


Background: Patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) are at high risk from the nephrotoxic effects of intravenous antibiotics due to repeated and prolonged courses of therapy. Routine methods of monitoring renal injury are insensitive. N-acetyl-b-d-glucosaminidase (NAG) is a lysosomal enzyme present in the renal proximal tubular cells, with increased excretion an indicator of renal tubular dysfunction.

Methods: Urinary NAG, creatinine, serum creatinine, electrolytes and BUN were measured on days 1, 14 and at the first out-patient visit following treatment with tobramycin or colistin. Urinary NAG levels were corrected for urinary creatinine and expressed as a NAG ratio. Patients who received>1 course of intravenous antibiotics during the study period were included in a separate analysis of the cumulative effect of treatment.

Results: 88 patients (44 female, 31 with CFRD) completed a single course of intravenous antibiotics. 71 patients had urinary NAG levels at follow-up. The median time to follow-up was 50 days. Serum electrolytes, creatinine and BUN were normal throughout. A 3.5-fold increase in urinary NAG excretion was observed between day 1 and 14 and 46% of patients had an elevated NAG level at follow-up. A highly significant difference in NAG excretion was observed on day 14 for tobramycin vs. colistin (median 2.24 vs. 0.98, p<0.001). A significant difference in NAG excretion was seen in patients with CFRD at all measured time points. Patients with CFRD had a significantly worse clinical status and had received more days of intravenous antibiotics over the previous 6 years. In 20 (80%) of 25 patients who received>1 course of treatment during the study period, baseline NAG levels were significantly higher in subsequent courses (p<0.001). There was a significant correlation between previous exposure to colistin and baseline NAG levels (r=0.389, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Both tobramycin and colistin cause acute renal tubular injury with a significant rise in urinary NAG excretion. Patients with CFRD seem to be at greatest risk of renal tubular damage. Cumulative damage is evident with repeated dosing. Previous exposure to nephrotoxic antibiotics, especially colistin, is associated with elevated baseline NAG levels. We recommend that colistin is reserved for patients with resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa or those who are intolerant to tobramycin. Serial longitudinal NAG measurements may be useful in patients with CF, especially those with CFRD, to identify patients at risk of developing renal disease.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosaminidase / drug effects*
  • Acetylglucosaminidase / urine*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colistin / adverse effects
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / urine*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Tubules / drug effects*
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / drug effects
  • Kidney Tubules, Proximal / pathology
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tobramycin / adverse effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Creatinine
  • Acetylglucosaminidase
  • Tobramycin
  • Colistin