Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is a small 25-kDa protein released from kidney tubular cells after harmful stimuli. It represents one of the most promising future biomarkers in the diagnostic field of acute kidney injury (AKI), as the increase in NGAL levels is a good predictor of a brief-term onset of AKI, notably anticipating the resulting increase in serum creatinine. However, recent studies also suggest a possible role for NGAL in chronic kidney disease (CKD). For this reason we evaluated serum (sNGAL) and urinary NGAL (uNGAL) in a cohort of CKD patients in order to verify the relationship with the severity of renal impairment. In CKD patients sNGAL, uNGAL and the fractional excretion of this protein were notably increased as compared to controls. Furthermore both sNGAL and uNGAL were correlated with serum creatinine and, inversely, with residual glomerular filtration rate (GFR): this last relationship was found to be even closer than that found between GFR and serum creatinine. Multivariate models validate these correlations as independent, confirming that in these patients NGAL is a better predictor of GFR than serum creatinine. The results confirm NGAL as an important biomarker in clinical nephrology, extending to CKD the pathophysiological role of this protein in tubular adaptations to renal damage.
Copyright 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.