Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is a promising novel biomarker that correlates with the severity and outcome of acute kidney injury (AKI). However, its prognostic utility during the late course of AKI, especially in patients that require renal replacement therapy (RRT) remains unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate the predictive value of serum NGAL in patients with established AKI at inception of RRT in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Serum NGAL (ELISA methodology) was measured in 109 critically ill patients with AKI at inception of RRT in 7 ICUs of a tertiary care university hospital. The primary outcome studied was 28-day mortality. Secondary outcome measures were ICU length of stay, ventilator-free days, and renal recovery at day 28.
There was a significant difference in serum NGAL between healthy subjects (median [interquartile range] 39.0 [37.5-42.75] ng/mL), critically ill patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) (297 [184-490] ng/mL), and critically ill patients with sepsis (708 [365-1301] ng/mL; P < 0.0001), respectively. Multiple linear regression showed that NGAL levels were independently related to the severity of AKI and the extent of systemic inflammation. NGAL levels were higher in non-survivors (430 [303-942] ng/mL) compared to survivors (298 [159-506] ng/mL; P = 0.004). Consistently, Cox proportional hazards regression analysis identified NGAL as a strong independent predictor for 28-day survival (hazard ratio 1.6 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.15 - 2.23), P = 0.005).