Purpose of review: Glomerular filtration rate is widely accepted as the best overall measure of kidney function. Currently available methods to estimate glomerular filtration rate have strengths and limitations. Cystatin C is a novel endogenous filtration marker being considered as a potential replacement for serum creatinine. This review summarizes the currently available glomerular filtration rate estimating equations based on cystatin C and the literature comparing cystatin C and creatinine as filtration markers.
Recent findings: In most cystatin C estimating equations, inclusion of age and sex did not substantially improve their performance. Equations yield different glomerular filtration rate estimates for the same level of cystatin C. Variation among equations may be due to differences among the assays or populations in the individual studies. Studies comparing cystatin C with creatinine or creatinine-based estimating equations show heterogeneous results, with some showing improved performance and others showing equivalent performance even in similar populations. These heterogeneous results may be due to inappropriate comparisons between equations developed in one population with those developed in another, or to the differences between assays or population characteristics.
Summary: Cystatin C shows promise as an alternative to serum creatinine but several important questions remain before it can be recommended for use in clinical practice.