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Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2011 Nov;20(6):631-9. doi: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e32834b8850.

Cystatin C as a marker of glomerular filtration rate: prospects and limitations.

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  • 1Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.



There is much interest in cystatin C to replace or supplement serum creatinine to estimate the glomerular filtration rate (GFR). Here we review the performance of cystatin C and combined creatinine-cystatin C estimating equations compared to creatinine-based estimating equations in chronic and acute kidney disease.


Drift in the cystatin C assay has had a large effect on the results reported using cystatin C, but these issues are not routinely considered in evaluation of GFR-estimating equations. The recently released primary reference material for cystatin C will allow less difference among assays in the future. There does not appear to be a consistent message among published studies as to whether cystatin C-based equations are better than creatinine-based equations in the general population or those with chronic kidney disease (CKD), as well as those with reduced muscle mass or chronic illness, or acute kidney injury. Cystatin C could be used in combination with creatinine as a confirmatory test for estimated GFR from creatinine.


Cystatin C may have a role to estimate GFR in selected circumstances, and the next set of studies should be directed at developing implementation strategies for its use.

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