Urine Proteins Can Indicate Acute Kidney Injury in Preterm Infants

Urine Proteins Can Indicate Acute Kidney Injury in Preterm Infants

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) researchers have found that the amount of proteins in the urine of preterm infants with and without acute kidney injury (AKI) is different, according to their study “Acute Kidney Injury Urine Biomarkers in Very Low-Birth-Weight Infants,” published in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Preterm infants are those born before week 37 of pregnancy.

“The findings in this study could help physicians better diagnose kidney health in newborns,” Dr. David Askenazi, associate professor in the UAB Department of Pediatrics and director of UAB’s Pediatric and Infant Center for Acute Nephrology, said in a press release. “Having better diagnostic tests to diagnose kidney injury will have an important impact on how we care for infants and how we prognosticate outcomes, and will enable us to design studies to prevent and/or mitigate kidney damage in these very vulnerable babies.”

The team analyzed a single drop of urine from 113 preterm infants and measured 14 different urine proteins. They found that several of the proteins including cystatin c, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, osteopontin, clusterin, and alpha glutathione S-transferase had higher concentrations in preterm infants who later showed abnormal kidney function when compared to other preterm infants with normally functioning kidneys.

Infants with AKI have a lower chance of survival, increased hospital stays, and higher hospital expenses. AKI is also thought to significantly increase the risk for chronic kidney disease (CKD) later in life.

“Additional studies to determine how AKI contributes to chronic kidney disease in these newborns are underway,” Askenazi said. “Improving our ability to diagnose AKI accurately is critical to improving our understanding of the natural course of disease and developing strategies to improve outcomes.”

It is essential that clinicians improve the ability to diagnose AKI because nearly 25% of preterm infants develop the condition. AKI is characterized by a sudden decline in kidney function.

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