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Crit Care. 2014 Feb 28;18(1):R39. doi: 10.1186/cc13752.

Effect of glomerular filtration rate impairment on diagnostic performance of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and B-type natriuretic peptide as markers of acute cardiac and renal failure in chronic kidney disease patients.



Cardio-renal syndromes are characterized by the impairment of cardiac and renal functions. Plasma and urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), and plasma B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) are markers of acute kidney injury (AKI) and heart failure (HF), respectively.


GFR (99mTc-DTPA), plasma BNP, and plasma and urinary concentrations of NGAL were measured in 310 clinically stable CKD patients, at functional stages from 1 to 5. Serum and urinary low-molecular-weight proteins cystatin C and β2-microglobulin, and urinary tubular enzymes were measured for comparison. Plasma BNP, NGAL, cystatin C and β2-microglobulin were measured also in 31 maintenance hemodialysis patients.


Plasma NGAL increased with the reduction of GFR in CKD patients from stage 2. In the different CKD stages modest differences were found for BNP values. Urinary NGAL increased slightly but significantly in patients at CKD stages 4 and 5, similarly to urinary cystatin C and β2-microglobulin. In maintenance hemodialysis patients, plasma NGAL and BNP were markedly increased, and high-flux hemodialysis significantly decreased their plasma concentrations.


Plasma NGAL increases markedly with the reduction in GFR, generating a very high number of false positive diagnoses of AKI in stable CKD patients. The grade of GFR impairment and the cause of kidney disease have a lower effect on urinary NGAL and on plasma BNP. In any case, specific reference values of NGAL and BNP should be used in chronic kidney disease patients, according to their functional stage, when assessing acute kidney injury, heart failure, and cardio-renal syndromes in patients with impaired GFR.

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