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Minerva Pediatr. 1999 May;51(5):167-77.

Cystatin C in paediatric nephrology. Present situation and prospects.

[Article in English, Italian]

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Clinica Pediatrica, Università degli Studi, Verona.


Cystatin C is a small basic protein with a MW of 13,359 Daltons, consisting of a non-glycosylated polypeptide chain containing 120 amino-acid residues. Cystatin C is produced in all the nucleated cells of the human body and its output rate is constant. The kidney is the main catabolic site of cystatin C, since the protein, by virtue of its low MW and its positive charge at normal pH, is freely filtered by the glomerulus and almost completely reabsorbed, catabolised and broken down in the cells of the proximal convoluted tubule. It is practically entirely filtered via the glomerular membrane, without any significant tubular secretion. The constant production rate of cystatin C in all the tissues, its elimination via the glomerular filter and its non-dependence on many extrinsic factors, including sex, age, diet, inflammation, are potentially ideal conditions for an endogenous biochemical marker of glomerular filtration. A recent method for determining cystatin C, is based on an immune reaction, could increase its clinical application. Not many studies have been conducted to date on cystatin C in children. The cystatin C concentration was higher during the first few days of life (range: 1.64-2.59 mg/L) with a rapid reduction during the first 4 months. Beyond the first year of life, cystatin C concentration became constant, with a reference range of 0.7-1.38 mg/L. On the basis of the data currently available, neonatal serum cystatin C would appear to derive from the newborn itself. In fact no correlations were found between maternal and neonatal serum cystatin C values. Cystatin C determination appears to be at least equivalent to serum creatinine measurement for the assessment of glomerular filtration rate in children. Further extended studies are needed to investigate these aspects more thoroughly in neonates.

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