Advantages, Limitations, and Clinical Considerations in Using Cystatin C to Estimate GFR

Kidney360. 2022 Aug 23;3(10):1807-1814. doi: 10.34067/KID.0003202022. eCollection 2022 Oct 27.


Cystatin C has been shown to be a reliable and accurate marker of kidney function across diverse populations. The 2012 Kidney Disease Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) guidelines recommended using cystatin C to confirm the diagnosis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) determined by creatinine-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and to estimate kidney function when accurate eGFR estimates are needed for clinical decision-making. In the efforts to remove race from eGFR calculations in the United States, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Joint Task Force recommended increasing availability and clinical adoption of cystatin C to assess kidney function. This review summarizes the key advantages and limitations of cystatin C use in clinical practice. Our goals were to review and discuss the literature on cystatin C; understand the evidence behind the recommendations for its use as a marker of kidney function to diagnose CKD and risk stratify patients for adverse outcomes; discuss the challenges of its use in clinical practice; and guide clinicians on its interpretation.

Keywords: clinical nephrology; cystatin C; eGFR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Creatinine
  • Cystatin C*
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Kidney Function Tests
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic* / diagnosis


  • Cystatin C
  • Creatinine