Renal handling of radiolabelled human cystatin C in the rat

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 1996 Aug;56(5):409-14. doi: 10.3109/00365519609088795.


Serum cystatin C concentration correlates negatively with glomerular filtration rate as well as or better than that of serum creatinine, suggesting a constant formation, and elimination from extracellular fluid mainly by glomerular filtration. It is not known, however, how well the renal plasma clearance of this 13-kDa basic polypeptide matches the glomerular filtration rate. This was investigated in rats during control conditions and after reduced renal perfusion pressure. 125I-cystatin C and an indicator for glomerular filtration (51Cr-EDTA or 131I-aprotinin) were injected intravenously. The renal accumulation and urinary excretion of the tracers were recorded in periods of 2.5 to 20.0 min. The renal plasma clearance of 125I-cystatin C (Ccy) based on the renal content of 125I correlated well with the glomerular filtration rate (CCr-EDTA) in periods up to 6 min; i.e. Ccy = 0.94 x CCr-EDTA, r = 0.99. Less than 0.5% of the filtered amount appeared in the urine. During more prolonged periods, Ccy increasingly underestimated glomerular filtration rate, reaching about 0.4 x CCr-EDTA in a 20-min period. Free 125I relative to total plasma 125I activity increased from about 2% at 5 min to about 70% at 20 min. In nephrectomized rats, free 125I accumulated in plasma at a slower rate, accounting for about 15% of the total activity 20 min after injection of 125I-cystatin C. We conclude that cystatin C is (a) mainly removed from the extracellular fluid by the kidneys, (b) practically freely filtered in the glomeruli, and (c) completely absorbed and rapidly broken down by the proximal tubular cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aprotinin / pharmacokinetics
  • Chromium Radioisotopes
  • Cystatin C
  • Cystatins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics*
  • Edetic Acid / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Glomerular Filtration Rate
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Kidney / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • CST3 protein, human
  • Chromium Radioisotopes
  • Cst3 protein, rat
  • Cystatin C
  • Cystatins
  • Cysteine Proteinase Inhibitors
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Aprotinin
  • Edetic Acid