Methodologic issues in the measurement of urinary renin

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2014 Jul;9(7):1163-7. doi: 10.2215/CJN.12661213. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


Background and objectives: Alge et al. recently reported that urinary renin may be a prognostic biomarker for AKI after cardiac surgery. However, their urinary renin levels far exceeded published plasma renin levels, whereas normally, urinary renin is <10% of plasma renin. This result raises questions about the specificity of the new Quantikine Renin ELISA Kit used in the work by Alge et al., which is claimed to detect total renin (i.e., renin and prorenin). Therefore, this study tested this assay.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements: Plasma and urine from 30 patients with hypertension, diabetes, or preeclampsia and 10 healthy pregnant women (randomly selected from sample sets obtained earlier to investigate urinary renin-angiotensin system components) were used to compare the ELISA with a validated renin immunoradiometric assay and an in-house enzyme kinetic assay. Measurements were performed before and after in vitro prorenin activation, representing renin and total renin, respectively.

Results: Total renin measurements by ELISA, immunoradiometric assay, and enzyme kinetic assay were highly correlated. However, ELISA results were consistently ≥10-fold higher. The ELISA standard yielded low to undetectable levels in the immunoradiometric assay and enzyme kinetic assay, except after prorenin activation, when the results were ≥10-fold lower than the ELISA results. In plasma, prorenin activation increased ELISA results by 10%-15%. Urine contained no detectable prorenin.

Conclusions: The ELISA renin kit standard is prorenin, and its immunoreactivity and enzymatic activity after conversion to renin do not match the International Reference Preparation of human renin that has been used to validate previous immunoradiometric assays and enzyme kinetic assays; in fact, they are at least 10-fold lower, and thus, any measurements obtained with this ELISA kit yield levels that are at least 10-fold too high. The ELISA antibodies detect both renin and prorenin, with a preference for the former. Given these inconsistencies, urinary renin levels should be measured by established renin assays.

Keywords: ACE inhibitors; CKD; albuminuria; chronic heart; failure; renin-angiotensin system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Calibration
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diagnosis
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / urine
  • Enzyme Precursors / blood
  • Enzyme Precursors / urine
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay* / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoradiometric Assay
  • Kidney Diseases / blood
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology
  • Kidney Diseases / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Reference Standards
  • Renin / blood
  • Renin / urine*
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Biomarkers
  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Renin