A biomarker test developed initially to identify early acute kidney injury (AKI) after surgery has been shown to successfully detect AKI in emergency room patients with a variety of urgent health issues, according to findings published online in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The test measures the protein neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) as a biomarker of early AKI. It was invented by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to detect AKI earlier than existing methods, and to more promptly begin treatment.
The purpose of the study, according to its senior author, Prasad Devarajan, MD, was “to determine the biomarker's accuracy in a diverse group of patients admitted from the emergency department, where patients with early signs of AKI are often misdiagnosed.” The findings demonstrate that the NGAL test, which uses a single drop of blood and provides results within 15 minutes, was able to accurately distinguish AKI from reversible transient kidney dysfunction. Of 616 patients who participated in the study, individuals who were subsequently diagnosed with true AKI had the highest levels of NGAL detected at the time of hospital admission. The study also identified a cutoff point in NGAL levels above which the risk of acute kidney injury increases tenfold. Read the study abstract.