Urine heat shock protein 70 levels as a marker of urinary tract infection in children

Pediatr Nephrol. 2016 Sep;31(9):1469-76. doi: 10.1007/s00467-016-3361-1. Epub 2016 Mar 24.


Background: Heat shock proteins (HSPs) are a multi-family group of proteins which are upregulated by the cell in response to exposure to hazardous (stress) factors, including infectious agents, to prevent changes in protein structure. The aim of our study was to assess whether urine levels of the 70-kDa family of HSPs (HSP70s) increase in children with urinary tract infection (UTI) and to determine the optimal urine (u) HSP70 cut-off level to predict UTI in children.

Methods: Forty patients with symptomatic UTI (UTI group), 30 healthy children (control group), 21 asymptomatic patients with proven bacterial contamination in their urine culture (contamination group) and 30 patients with fever caused by other infections (non-UTI infection group) were enrolled in the study. Random urine samples were obtained for measurement of HSP70 and creatinine (Cr) from all groups. Urine was collected prior to the treatment of UTI at the time of presentation and after treatment. Urine HSP70 levels were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent analysis. A dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) scan was performed at 5-7 days after presentation in UTI group to distinguish patients with acute pyelonephritis from those with cystitis; based on this scan, no patients had acute pyelonephritis. Patients were classified with pyelonephritis in the presence of all of the following signs: axillary fever of ≥39 °C, leukocytosis and positivity for C-reactive protein.

Results: The mean urine HSP70:Cr ratio (uHSP70/Cr) prior to treatment was significantly higher in the UTI group (449.86 ± 194.33 pg/mg) than in the control, contamination and non-UTI infection groups (39.93 ± 47.61, 32.43 ± 9.09 and 45.14 ± 19.76, respectively; p = 0.0001). Using a cut-off of 158 pg/mg uHSP70/Cr for the prediction of UTI, the sensitivity and specificity of the assay were 100 and 100 %, respectively (area under the time-concentration curve = 1). The uHSP70/Cr was highest in the patients with clinical pyelonephritis (p = 0.001). Mean uHSP70/Cr after treatment decreased to 60.68 ± 51.11 pg/mg in UTI group (p = 0 .0001).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that elevated uHSP70/Cr may be a useful biomarker for the prediction of UTI in children, with a high sensitivity and specificity, and that they may help to distinguish UTI from other infections as well as bacterial contamination of the urine.

Keywords: Biomarker; Children; HSP; Urinary tract infection; Urine heat shock proteins.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Child
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / urine*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pyelonephritis / diagnosis*
  • Pyelonephritis / diagnostic imaging
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diagnostic imaging*


  • Biomarkers
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins