Biomarkers for the diagnosis of acute kidney injury

Nephron Clin Pract. 2008;109(4):c192-7. doi: 10.1159/000142928. Epub 2008 Sep 18.


The identification of acute kidney injury relies on tests like blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine that were identified and incorporated into clinical practice several decades ago. This review summarizes clinical studies of newer biomarkers that may permit earlier and more accurate identification of acute kidney injury. The urine may contain sensitive and specific markers of kidney injury that are present due to either impaired tubular reabsorption and catabolism of filtered molecules or release of tubular cell proteins in response to ischemic or nephrotoxic injury. Many potential markers have been studied. Promising injury markers in the urine include N-acetyl-beta-D-glucosaminidase, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, kidney injury molecule-1, and interleukin-18. New biomarkers of kidney injury hold the promise of substantially improving the diagnostic approach to acute kidney injury. Adequately powered clinical studies of multiple biomarkers are needed to qualify the biomarkers before they can be fully adopted in clinical practice. Once adopted, more sensitive biomarkers of acute kidney injury hold the potential to transform the care of patients with renal disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / metabolism*
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Cytokines / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines