Serum Neutrophil Gelatinase–Associated Lipocalin: A Diagnostic Marker in Pediatric Sepsis

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Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the response of the body to infection injures its own tissues and organs. The early prediction of sepsis by current clinical and laboratory methods remains inadequate. Serum neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin level is increased in sepsis irrespective of renal dysfunction. Therefore, we aimed to correlate the serum neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin value determined at admission with clinical progression and severity of disease in critically ill children and to declare its role as a potential diagnostic and prognostic marker for sepsis in critically ill children in the emergency department.


A prospective cohort study.


The study carried out at the PICU of Menoufia University Hospital.


We serially enrolled 120 critically ill children admitted to the PICU at 2 fixed days per week in addition to 40 healthy children served as controls.


Clinical examination was performed including calculation of the Pediatric Risk of Mortality and Pediatric Index of Mortality 2. Serum neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin measurement was performed for patients at admission and for the controls. Patients were followed up for 30 days. The discriminatory power of neutrophil gelatinase– associated lipocalin was determined using the receiver-operating characteristic and other predictive likelihood values.

Measurements and Main Results:

Serum neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin level was significantly higher among the total patient cohort and those with sepsis than among the controls (p < 0.001), also in patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome without sepsis and patients without systemic inflammatory response syndrome (p = 0.04 and <0.001). Furthermore, plasma level of neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin was significantly elevated in nonsurvivors compared with survivors (p < 0. 001). Receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis exhibited an area under the curve of 0.84 for neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin for diagnosis of sepsis, whereas C-reactive protein had an area under the curve of 0.79. Regarding the prognosis, neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin had an area under the curve of 0.74 for prediction of mortality, whereas the area under the curve for Pediatric Risk of Mortality, Pediatric Index of Mortality 2, and C-reactive protein were 0.59, 0.58, and 0.62, respectively.


Overall, the data support the view that measurement at admission, serum neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin results in substantial added value for early diagnosis and prognostication of sepsis in critically sick children.

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