Objective: Sepsis is the most common trigger for acute kidney injury (AKI) in critically ill patients. We sought to determine whether there are unique patterns to plasma and urine neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) in septic compared with non-septic AKI.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Setting: Two adult ICUs in Melbourne, Australia.
Patients: Critically ill patients with septic and non-septic AKI.
Measurements and main results: Blood and urine specimens collected at enrollment, 12, 24 and 48 h to measure plasma and urine NGAL. Eighty-three patients were enrolled (septic n = 43). Septic AKI patients had more co-morbid disease (p = 0.005), emergency surgical admissions (p < 0.001), higher illness severity (p = 0.008), more organ dysfunction (p = 0.008) and higher white blood cell counts (p = 0.01). There were no differences at enrollment between groups in AKI severity. Septic AKI was associated with significantly higher plasma (293 vs. 166 ng/ml) and urine (204 vs. 39 ng/mg creatinine) NGAL at enrollment compared with non-septic AKI (p < 0.001). Urine NGAL remained higher in septic compared with non-septic AKI at 12 h (p < 0.001) and 24 h (p < 0.001). Plasma NGAL showed fair discrimination for AKI progression (area under receiver-operator characteristic curve 0.71) and renal replacement therapy (AuROC 0.78). Although urine NGAL performed less well (AuROC 0.70, 0.70), peak urine NGAL predicted AKI progression better in non-septic AKI (AuROC 0.82).
Conclusion: Septic AKI patients have higher detectable plasma and urine NGAL compared with non-septic AKI patients. These differences in NGAL values in septic AKI may have diagnostic and clinical relevance as well as pathogenetic implications.