Predicting and Defining Steroid Resistance in Pediatric Nephrotic Syndrome Using Plasma Metabolomics

Kidney Int Rep. 2019 Sep 19;5(1):81-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ekir.2019.09.010. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Introduction: Nephrotic syndrome (NS) is a kidney disease that affects both children and adults. Glucocorticoids have been the primary therapy for >60 years but are ineffective in approximately 20% of children and approximately 50% of adult patients. Unfortunately, patients with steroid-resistant NS (SRNS; vs. steroid-sensitive NS [SSNS]) are at high risk for both glucocorticoid-induced side effects and disease progression.

Methods: We performed proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H NMR) metabolomic analyses on plasma samples (n = 86) from 45 patients with NS (30 SSNS and 15 SRNS) obtained at initial disease presentation before glucocorticoid initiation and after approximately 7 weeks of glucocorticoid therapy to identify candidate biomarkers able to either predict SRNS before treatment or define critical molecular pathways/targets regulating steroid resistance.

Results: Stepwise logistic regression models identified creatinine concentration and glutamine concentration (odds ratio [OR]: 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.99-1.02) as 2 candidate biomarkers predictive of SRNS, and malonate concentration (OR: 0.94; 95% CI: 0.89-1.00) as a third candidate predictive biomarker using a similar model (only in children >3 years). In addition, paired-sample analyses identified several candidate biomarkers with the potential to identify mechanistic molecular pathways/targets that regulate clinical steroid resistance, including lipoproteins, adipate, pyruvate, creatine, glucose, tyrosine, valine, glutamine, and sn-glycero-3-phosphcholine.

Conclusion: Metabolomic analyses of serial plasma samples from children with SSNS and SRNS identified elevated creatinine and glutamine concentrations, and reduced malonate concentrations, as auspicious candidate biomarkers to predict SRNS at disease onset in pediatric NS, as well as additional candidate biomarkers with the potential to identify mechanistic molecular pathways that may regulate clinical steroid resistance.

Keywords: biomarkers; metabolomics; nephrotic syndrome; steroid resistance.