28 August 2008
Background/Aims: Persistent proteinuria is a sign of renal damage caused by several factors, but it is itself a cause of tubular injury leading to chronic renal failure. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is a stress protein released by tubular cells which urinary excretion (uNGAL) increases in response to various stimuli. Methods: In the present study we analyzed uNGAL levels in 23 macroproteinuric patients with membranous glomerulonephritis. Results: In these subjects, uNGAL concentrations were significantly higher than in controls, directly correlated with proteinuria and inversely related to residual renal function. Patients were further categorized into two groups, according to a cut-off baseline uNGAL value of 350 ng/ml and evaluated during a 1-year follow-up period. After 12 months, subjects with higher uNGAL levels showed a significant worsening in baseline renal function and a 3.36 risk ratio of developing a severe decrease in GFR (≧50% of baseline values) compared with others. Conclusions: These findings suggest that NGAL may play a key role in tubular adaptations to persistent macroproteinuria. Furthermore, a new, interesting application of NGAL measurement could be proposed in clinical nephrology as a predictor of worsening renal function in patients affected by chronic kidney disease.