Optimal cut points of plasma and urine neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin for the prediction of acute kidney injury among critically ill adults: retrospective determination and clinical validation of a prospective multicentre study

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To determine the optimal threshold of blood and urine neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) to predict moderate to severe acute kidney injury (AKI) and persistent moderate to severe AKI lasting at least 48 consecutive hours, as defined by an adjudication panel.


A multicentre prospective observational study enrolled intensive care unit (ICU) patients and recorded daily ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) plasma, heparin plasma and urine NGAL. We used natural log-transformed NGAL in a logistic regression model to predict stage 2/3 AKI (defined by Kidney Disease International Global Organization). We performed the same analysis using the NGAL value at the start of persistent stage 2/3 AKI.


Of 245 subjects, 33 (13.5%) developed stage 2/3 AKI and 25 (10.2%) developed persistent stage 2/3 AKI. Predicting stage 2/3 AKI revealed the optimal NGAL cutoffs in EDTA plasma (142.0 ng/mL), heparin plasma (148.3 ng/mL) and urine (78.0 ng/mL) and yielded the following decision statistics: sensitivity (SN)=78.8%, specificity (SP)=73.0%, positive predictive value (PPV)=31.3%, negative predictive value (NPV)=95.7%, diagnostic accuracy (DA)=73.8% (EDTA plasma); SN=72.7%, SP=73.8%, PPV=30.4%, NPV=94.5%, DA=73.7% (heparin plasma); SN=69.7%, SP=76.8%, PPV=32.9%, NPV=94%, DA=75.8% (urine). The optimal NGAL cutoffs to predict persistent stage 2/3 AKI were similar: 148.3 ng/mL (EDTA plasma), 169.6 ng/mL (heparin plasma) and 79.0 ng/mL (urine) yielding: SN=84.0%, SP=73.5%, PPV=26.6%, NPV=97.6, DA=74.6% (EDTA plasma), SN=84%, SP=76.1%, PPV=26.8%, NPV=96.5%, DA=76.1% (heparin plasma) and SN=75%, SP=75.8%, PPV=26.1, NPV=96.4%, DA=75.7% (urine).


Blood and urine NGAL predicted stage 2/3 AKI, as well as persistent 2/3 AKI in the ICU with acceptable decision statistics using a single cut point in each type of specimen.