Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin in adult septic patients with and without acute kidney injury

Intensive Care Med. 2010 Aug;36(8):1333-40. doi: 10.1007/s00134-010-1887-4. Epub 2010 Apr 16.


Purpose: To study the impact of inflammation/sepsis on the concentrations of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) in plasma and urine in adult intensive care unit (ICU) patients and to estimate the predictive properties of NGAL in plasma and urine for early detection of acute kidney injury (AKI) in patients with septic shock.

Methods: Sixty-five patients admitted to the general ICU at the Karolinska University Hospital Solna, Sweden, with normal plasma creatinine were assessed for eligibility. Twenty-seven patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), severe sepsis, or septic shock without AKI and 18 patients with septic shock and concomitant AKI were included in the final analysis. Plasma and urine were analyzed twice daily for plasma NGAL (pNGAL), C-reactive protein (CRP), procalcitonin, myeloperoxidase, plasma cystatin C, plasma creatinine, urine NGAL (uNGAL), urine cystatin C, and urine alpha1-microglobulin.

Results: Of the 45 patients, 40 had elevated peak levels of pNGAL. Peak levels of pNGAL were not significantly different between septic shock patients with and without AKI. Peak levels of uNGAL were below the upper reference limit in all but four patients without AKI. uNGAL was a good predictor (area under ROC 0.86) whereas pNGAL was a poor predictor (area under ROC 0.67) for AKI within the next 12 h in patients with septic shock.

Conclusions: pNGAL is raised in patients with SIRS, severe sepsis, and septic shock and should be used with caution as a marker of AKI in ICU patients with septic shock. uNGAL is more useful in predicting AKI as the levels are not elevated in septic patients without AKI.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / diagnosis*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / physiopathology
  • Acute-Phase Proteins / metabolism*
  • Acute-Phase Proteins / urine
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Critical Illness
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipocalin-2
  • Lipocalins / blood
  • Lipocalins / metabolism*
  • Lipocalins / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / blood
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / urine
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sepsis / metabolism*


  • Acute-Phase Proteins
  • Biomarkers
  • LCN2 protein, human
  • Lipocalin-2
  • Lipocalins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins