C-Terminal Fragment of Agrin (CAF): A Novel Marker for Progression of Kidney Disease in Type 2 Diabetics

Vasilios Devetzis, Arezoo Daryadel, Stefanos Roumeliotis, Marios Theodoridis, Carsten A Wagner, Stefan Hettwer, Uyen Huynh-Do, Passadakis Ploumis, Spyridon Arampatzis
PloS One 2015, 10 (12): e0143524

BACKGROUND: Diabetes is the leading cause of CKD in the developed world. C-terminal fragment of agrin (CAF) is a novel kidney function and injury biomarker. We investigated whether serum CAF predicts progression of kidney disease in type 2 diabetics.

METHODS: Serum CAF levels were measured in 71 elderly patients with diabetic nephropathy using a newly developed commercial ELISA kit (Neurotune®). Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and proteinuria in spot urine were assessed at baseline and after 12 months follow up. The presence of end stage renal disease (ESRD) was evaluated after 24 months follow-up. Correlation and logistic regression analyses were carried out to explore the associations of serum CAF levels with GFR, proteinuria, GFR loss and incident ESRD. Renal handling of CAF was tested in neurotrypsin-deficient mice injected with recombinant CAF.

RESULTS: We found a strong association of serum CAF levels with eGFR and a direct association with proteinuria both at baseline (r = 0.698, p<0.001 and r = 0. 287, p = 0.02) as well as after 12 months follow-up (r = 0.677, p<0.001 and r = 0.449, p<0.001), respectively. Furthermore, in multivariate analysis, serum CAF levels predicted eGFR decline at 12 months follow-up after adjusting for known risk factors (eGFR, baseline proteinuria) [OR (95%CI) = 4.2 (1.2-14.5), p = 0.024]. In mice, injected CAF was detected in endocytic vesicles of the proximal tubule.

CONCLUSION: Serum CAF levels reflect renal function and are highly associated with eGFR and proteinuria at several time points. Serum CAF was able to predict subsequent loss of renal function irrespective of baseline proteinuria in diabetic nephropathy. CAF is likely removed from circulation by glomerular filtration and subsequent endocytosis in the proximal tubule. These findings may open new possibilities for clinical trial design, since serum CAF levels may be used as a selection tool to monitor kidney function in high-risk patients with diabetic nephropathy.

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