Accuracy of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) in diagnosis and prognosis in acute kidney injury: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Michael Haase, Rinaldo Bellomo, Prasad Devarajan, Peter Schlattmann, Anja Haase-Fielitz
American Journal of Kidney Diseases: the Official Journal of the National Kidney Foundation 2009, 54 (6): 1012-24

BACKGROUND: Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) appears to be a promising biomarker for the early diagnosis of acute kidney injury (AKI); however, a wide range in its predictive value has been reported.

STUDY DESIGN: Meta-analysis of diagnostic test studies using custom-made standardized data sheets sent to each author.

SETTING & POPULATION: Different clinical settings of AKI.

SELECTION CRITERIA FOR STUDIES: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL databases and congress abstracts were searched for studies reporting the value of NGAL to predict AKI.

INDEX TESTS: Plasma/serum and urine NGAL within 6 hours from the time of insult (if known) or 24-48 hours before the diagnosis of AKI if the time of insult was not known.

REFERENCE TESTS: The primary outcome was AKI, defined as an increase in serum creatinine level > 50% from baseline within 7 days or contrast-induced nephropathy (creatinine increase > 25% or concentration > 0.5 mg/dL in adults or > 50% increase in children within 48 hours). Other outcomes predicted using NGAL were renal replacement therapy initiation and in-hospital mortality.

RESULTS: Using a hierarchical bivariate generalized linear model to calculate the diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) and sample size-weighted area under the curve for the receiver-operating characteristic (AUC-ROC), we analyzed data from 19 studies and 8 countries involving 2,538 patients, of whom 487 (19.2%) developed AKI. Overall, the DOR/AUC-ROC of NGAL to predict AKI was 18.6 (95% CI, 9.0-38.1)/0.815 (95% CI, 0.732-0.892). The DOR/AUC-ROC when standardized platforms were used was 25.5 (95% CI, 8.9-72.8)/0.830 (95% CI, 0.741-0.918) with a cutoff value > 150 ng/mL for AKI compared with 16.7 (95% CI, 7.1-39.7)/0.732 (95% CI, 0.656-0.830) for "research-based" NGAL assays. In cardiac surgery patients, the DOR/AUC-ROC of NGAL was 13.1 (95% CI, 5.7-34.8)/0.775 (95% CI, 0.669-0.867); in critically ill patients, 10.0 (95% CI, 3.0-33.1)/0.728 (95% CI, 0.615-0.834); and after contrast infusion, 92.0 (95% CI, 10.7-794.1)/0.894 (95% CI, 0.826-0.950). The diagnostic accuracy of plasma/serum NGAL (17.9 [95% CI, 6.0-53.7]/0.775 [95% CI, 0.679-0.869]) was similar to that of urine NGAL (18.6 [95% CI, 7.2-48.4]/0.837 [95% CI, 0.762-0.906]). We identified age to be an effective modifier of NGAL value with better predictive ability in children (25.4 [95% CI, 8.9-72.2]/0.930 [95% CI, 0.883-0.968]) compared with adults (10.6 [95% CI, 4.8-23.4]/0.782 [95% CI, 0.689-0.872]). NGAL level was a useful prognostic tool with regard to the prediction of renal replacement therapy initiation (12.9 [95% CI, 4.9-33.9]/0.782 [95% CI, 0.648-0.917]) and in-hospital mortality (8.8 [95% CI, 1.9-40.8]/0.706 [95% CI, 0.530-0.747]).

LIMITATIONS: Serum creatinine level was used for AKI definition.

CONCLUSIONS: NGAL level appears to be of diagnostic and prognostic value for AKI.

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