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Kidney Int. 2002 Jul;62(1):237-44.

Kidney Injury Molecule-1 (KIM-1): a novel biomarker for human renal proximal tubule injury.

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  • 1Medical Services, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts, USA.



Traditional blood and urine markers for the diagnosis of various renal diseases are insensitive and nonspecific. Kidney Injury Molecule-1 (KIM-1) is a type 1 transmembrane protein, with an immunoglobulin and mucin domain, whose expression is markedly up-regulated in the proximal tubule in the post-ischemic rat kidney. The ectodomain of KIM-1 is shed from cells. The current studies were carried out to evaluate whether KIM-1 is present in human acute renal failure and might serve as a urinary marker of acute renal tubular injury.


Kidney tissue samples from six patients with biopsy-proven acute tubular necrosis (ATN) were evaluated by immunohistochemistry for expression of KIM-1. Urine samples were collected from an additional thirty-two patients with various acute and chronic renal diseases, as well as from eight normal controls. Urinary KIM-1 protein was detected by immunoassay and was quantified by ELISA.


There was extensive expression of KIM-1 in proximal tubule cells in biopsies from 6 of 6 patients with confirmed ATN. The normalized urinary KIM-1 levels were significantly higher in patients with ischemic ATN (2.92 +/- 0.61; N = 7) compared to levels in patients with other forms of acute renal failure (0.63 +/- 0.17, P < 0.01; N = 16) or chronic renal disease (0.72 +/- 0.37, P < 0.01; N = 9). Adjusted for age, gender, length of time delay between the initial insult and sampling of the urine, a one-unit increase in normalized KIM-1 was associated with a greater than 12-fold (OR 12.4, 95% CI 1.2 to 119) risk for the presence of ATN. Concentrations of other urinary biomarkers, including total protein, gamma-glutamyltransferase, and alkaline phosphatase, did not correlate with clinical diagnostic groupings.


A soluble form of human KIM-1 can be detected in the urine of patients with ATN and may serve as a useful biomarker for renal proximal tubule injury facilitating the early diagnosis of the disease and serving as a diagnostic discriminator.

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