Urine Fibrosis Markers and Risk of Allograft Failure in Kidney Transplant Recipients: A Case-Cohort Ancillary Study of the FAVORIT Trial

Am J Kidney Dis. 2017 Mar;69(3):410-419. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2016.10.019. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Background: Kidney tubulointerstitial fibrosis marks risk for allograft failure in kidney transplant recipients, but is poorly captured by estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) or urine albumin-creatinine ratio (ACR). Whether urinary markers of tubulointerstitial fibrosis can noninvasively identify risk for allograft failure above and beyond eGFR and ACR is unknown.

Study design: Case-cohort study.

Setting & participants: The FAVORIT (Folic Acid for Vascular Outcome Reduction in Transplantation) Trial was a randomized double-blind trial testing vitamin therapy to lower homocysteine levels in stable kidney transplant recipients. We selected a subset of participants at random (n=491) and all individuals with allograft failure during follow-up (cases; n=257).

Predictor: Using spot urine specimens from the baseline visit, we measured 4 urinary proteins known to correlate with tubulointerstitial fibrosis on biopsy (urine α1-microglobulin [A1M], monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 [MCP-1], and procollagen type III and type I amino-terminal amino pro-peptide).

Outcome: Death-censored allograft failure.

Results: In models adjusted for demographics, chronic kidney disease risk factors, eGFR, and ACR, higher concentrations of urine A1M (HR per doubling, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.43-2.08) and MCP-1 (HR per doubling, 1.60; 95% CI, 1.32-1.93) were strongly associated with allograft failure. When additionally adjusted for concentrations of other urine fibrosis and several urine injury markers, urine A1M (HR per doubling, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.27-2.44]) and MCP-1 levels (HR per doubling, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.17-1.89) remained associated with allograft failure. Urine procollagen type III and type I levels were not associated with allograft failure.

Limitations: We lack kidney biopsy data, BK titers, and HLA antibody status.

Conclusions: Urine measurement of tubulointerstitial fibrosis may provide a noninvasive method to identify kidney transplant recipients at higher risk for future allograft failure, above and beyond eGFR and urine ACR.

Keywords: Fibrosis; allograft failure; biomarker; case-cohort; end-stage renal disease (ESRD); inflammation; kidney transplant recipient (KTR); kidney transplantation; monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1); risk factor; tubulo-interstitial fibrosis; urinary marker; α(1)-microglobulin (A1M).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Cohort Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Fibrosis / urine
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology*
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology
  • Postoperative Complications / urine*
  • Renal Insufficiency / pathology*
  • Renal Insufficiency / physiopathology
  • Renal Insufficiency / urine*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Biomarkers