Renal function trajectory is more important than chronic kidney disease stage for managing patients with chronic kidney disease

Am J Nephrol. 2012;36(1):1-10. doi: 10.1159/000339327. Epub 2012 Jun 13.


Management of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) emphasizes a current level of function as calculated from the modification of diet in renal disease glomerulofiltration rate equations (eGFR) and proteinuria for staging of CKD. Change in a patient's eGFR over time (renal function trajectory) is an additional and potentially more important consideration in deciding which patients will progress to the point where they will require renal replacement therapy (RRT). Many patients with CKD 3-5 have stable renal function for years. Proteinuria/albuminuria is a primary determinant of renal trajectory which may be slowed by medications that decrease proteinuria and/or aggressively lower blood pressure. A renal trajectory of >3 ml/min/1.73 m(2)/year may relate to a need for closer renal follow-up and increased morbidity and mortality. Additional CKD population-based studies need to examine the relationship of renal trajectory to: baseline renal function; acute kidney injury episodes; age, race, sex and primary etiologies of renal disease; blood pressure control and therapies; dietary protein intake; blood glucose control in diabetics and the competitive risk of death versus the requirement for renal replacement therapy. In the elderly CKD 4 population with significant comorbidities and slow decline in renal function, the likelihood of death prior to the need for RRT should be considered before placing AV access for dialysis. Prediction models of renal progression must account for the competitive risk of death as well as stable or improved renal function to be clinically useful.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Albuminuria / metabolism
  • Comorbidity
  • Creatinine / metabolism
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrology / methods
  • Proteinuria / metabolism
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / classification
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy*
  • Renal Replacement Therapy / methods
  • Risk


  • Creatinine