Prognostic Performance of Cystatin C in COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 7;19(21):14607. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192114607.


Cystatin C is a specific biomarker of kidney function. We perform this meta-analysis to determine the association of Cystatin C with the COVID-19 severity. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane library, and Web of Science for studies published until 2nd September 2022 that reported associations between Cystatin C levels and COVID-19 severity. The analysis was performed using a random-effects model to calculate pooled standard mean difference (SMD). Twenty-five studies were included in the meta-analysis. Pooled analysis showed statistically significant differences of Cystatin C levels among survive vs. decreased patients (0.998 ± 0.225 vs. 1.328 ± 0.475 mg/dL, respectively; SMD = -2.14; 95%CI: -3.28 to -1.01; p < 0.001). Cystatin C levels in COVID-19 severe vs. non-severe groups varied and amounted to 1.485 ± 1.191 vs. 1.014 ± 0.601 mg/dL, respectively (SMD = 1.81; 95%CI: 1.29 to 2.32; p < 0.001). Additionally, pooled analysis showed that Cystatin C levels in patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) was 1.562 ± 0.885 mg/dL, compared to 0.811 ± 0.108 mg/dL for patients without AKI (SMD = 4.56; 95%CI: 0.27 to 8.85; p = 0.04). Summing up, Cystatin C is a potentially very good marker to be used in the context of COVID-19 disease due to the prognosis of patients' serious condition, risk of AKI and mortality. In addition, Cystatin C could be used as a marker of renal complications in COVID-19 other than AKI due to the need to monitor patients even longer after leaving the hospital.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cystatin C; SARS-CoV-2; cystatin 3; novel coronavirus; severity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury* / epidemiology
  • Acute Kidney Injury* / etiology
  • Biomarkers
  • COVID-19*
  • Cystatin C
  • Humans
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers
  • Cystatin C
  • CST3 protein, human

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.