The use of fibroblast growth factor 23 testing in patients with kidney disease

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Jul;9(7):1283-303. doi: 10.2215/CJN.10941013. Epub 2014 Feb 27.


The emergence of fibroblast growth factor 23 as a potentially modifiable risk factor in CKD has led to growing interest in its measurement as a tool to assess patient risk and target therapy. This review discusses the analytical and clinical challenges faced in translating fibroblast growth factor 23 testing into routine practice. As for other bone mineral markers, agreement between commercial fibroblast growth factor 23 assays is poor, mainly because of differences in calibration, but also, these differences reflect the variable detection of hormone fragments. Direct comparison of readout from different assays is consequently limited and likely hampers setting uniform fibroblast growth factor 23-directed targets. Efforts are needed to standardize assay output to enhance clinical use. Fibroblast growth factor 23 is robustly associated with cardiovascular and renal outcomes in patients with CKD and adds value to risk assessments based on conventional risk factors. Compared with most other mineral markers, fibroblast growth factor 23 shows better intraindividual temporal stability, with minimal diurnal and week-to-week variability, but substantial interindividual variation, maximizing discriminative power for risk stratification. Conventional therapeutic interventions for the CKD-mineral bone disorder, such as dietary phosphate restriction and use of oral phosphate binders or calcimimetics, are associated with variable efficacy at modulating circulating fibroblast growth factor 23 concentrations, like they are for other mineral metabolites. Dual therapy with dietary phosphate restriction and noncalcium-based binder use achieves the most consistent fibroblast growth factor 23-lowering effect and seems best monitored using an intact assay. Additional studies are needed to evaluate whether strategies aimed at reducing levels or antagonizing its action have beneficial effects on clinical outcomes in CKD patients. Moreover, a better understanding of the mechanisms driving fibroblast growth factor 23 elevations in CKD is needed to inform the use of therapeutic interventions targeting fibroblast growth factor 23 excess. This evidence must be forthcoming to support the use of fibroblast growth factor 23 measurement and fibroblast growth factor 23-directed therapy in the clinic.

Keywords: CKD-MBD; ELISA; FGF23; cardiovascular disease; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / blood*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / blood*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / therapy
  • Risk Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • FGF23 protein, human
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor-23