Biomarkers of acute kidney injury: the pathway from discovery to clinical adoption

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Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common complication of critical illnesses and has a significant impact on outcomes, including mortality and morbidities. Unfortunately, apart from prophylactic measures, no effective treatment for this syndrome is known. Therefore, early recognition of AKI not only can provide better opportunities for preventive interventions, but also opens many gates for research and development of effective therapeutic options. Over the last few years, several new AKI biomarkers have been discovered and validated to improve early detection, differential diagnosis, and differentiation of patients into risk groups for progressive renal failure, need for renal replacement therapy (RRT), or death. These novel AKI biomarkers complement serum creatinine (SCr) and urine output, which are the standard diagnostic tools for AKI detection. In this article, we review the available literature on characteristics of promising AKI biomarkers that are currently the focus of preclinical and clinical investigations. These biomarkers include neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), kidney injury molecule 1 (KIM-1), liver-type fatty acid-binding protein, interleukin 18 (lL-18), insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 7, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP-2), calprotectin, urine angiotensinogen (AGT), and urine microRNA. We then describe the clinical performance of these biomarkers for diagnosis and prognostication. We also appraise each AKI biomarker's advantages and limitations as a tool for early AKI recognition and prediction of clinical outcomes after AKI. Finally, we review the current and future states of implementation of biomarkers in the clinical practice.

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