Metabolomic profiling to improve glomerular filtration rate estimation: A proof-of-concept study

Josef Coresh, Lesley A. Inker, Yingying Sang, Jingsha Chen, Tariq Shafi, Wendy S. Post, Michael G. Shlipak, Lisa Ford, Kelli Goodman, Regis Perichon, Tom Greene, Andrew S. Levey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Background. Estimation of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) using estimated glomerular filtration rate creatinine (eGFRcr) is central to clinical practice but has limitations. We tested the hypothesis that serum metabolomic profiling can identify novel markers that in combination can provide more accurate GFR estimates. Methods. We performed a cross-sectional study of 200 African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension (AASK) and 265 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants with measured GFR (mGFR). Untargeted gas chromatography/dual mass spectrometry– and liquid chromatography/dual mass spectrometry–based quantification was followed by the development of targeted assays for 15 metabolites. On the log scale, GFR was estimated from single- and multiple-metabolite panels and compared with eGFR using the Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemiology equations with creatinine and/or cystatin C using established metrics, including the proportion of errors >30% of mGFR (1-P30), before and after bias correction. Results. Of untargeted metabolites in the AASK and MESA, 283 of 780 (36%) and 387 of 1447 (27%), respectively, were significantly correlated (P 0.001) with mGFR. A targeted metabolite panel eGFR developed in the AASK and validated in the MESA was more accurate (1-P30 3.7 and 1.9%, respectively) than eGFRcr [11.2 and 18.5%, respectively (P < 0.001 for both)] and estimating GFR using cystatin C (eGFRcys) [10.6% (P ¼ 0.02) and 9.1% (P < 0.05), respectively] but was not consistently better than eGFR using both creatinine and cystatin C [3.7% (P > 0.05) and 9.1% (P < 0.05), respectively]. A panel excluding creatinine and demographics still performed well [1-P30 6.4% (P ¼ 0.11) and 3.4% (P < 0.001) in the AASK and MESA] versus eGFRcr. Conclusions. Multimetabolite panels can enable accurate GFR estimation. Metabolomic equations, preferably excluding creatinine and demographic characteristics, should be tested for robustness and generalizability as a potential confirmatory test when eGFRcr is unreliable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)825-833
Number of pages9
JournalNephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • Creatinine
  • Estimating equations
  • GFR
  • Kidney function
  • Metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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