Background: Evaluating the accuracy of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) derived from serum creatinine (SCr) and serum cystatin C (SCysC) equations requires gold-standard measures of GFR. However, the influence of imprecise measured GFRs (mGFRs) on estimates of equation error is unknown.
Study design: Diagnostic test study.
Setting & participants: 1,995 participants from the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) Study and African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) with at least 2 baseline mGFRs from iodine 125-iothalamate urinary clearances, 1 standardized SCr value, and 1 SCysC value.
Index tests: eGFRs calculated using the 4-variable isotope-dilution mass spectrometry (IDMS)-traceable MDRD Study equation, the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) Epidemiology Collaboration (CKD-EPI) SCysC equation, the CKD-EPI SCr-SCysC equation, and mGFRs collected from another prerandomization visit.
Reference tests: A single reference mGFR, average of 2, and average of 3 mGFRs; additional analysis limited to consistent mGFRs (difference <or=25% from reference mGFR).
Results: We found that mGFRs had stable mean values, but substantial variability across visits. Of all mGFRs collected a mean of 62 days apart from the reference visit, 8.0% were outside 30% of the single reference mGFR (1 - P(30)). Estimation equations were less accurate because 12.1%, 17.1%, and 8.3% of eGFRs from the MDRD Study, CKD-EPI SCysC, and CKD-EPI SCr-SCysC equations were outside 30% of the same gold standard (1 - P(30)). However, improving the precision of the reference test from a single mGFR to the average of 3 consistent mGFRs decreased these error estimates (1 - P(30)) to 8.0%, 12.5%, and 3.9%, respectively.
Limitations: Study population limited to those with CKD.
Conclusions: Imprecision in gold-standard measures of GFR contribute to an appreciable proportion of the cases in which eGFR and mGFR differ by >30%. Reducing and quantifying errors in gold-standard measurements of GFR is critical to fully estimating the accuracy of GFR estimates.