Assessment of renal functional maturation and injury in preterm neonates during the first month of life

Lina Gubhaju, Megan R. Sutherland, Rosemary S.C. Horne, Alison Medhurst, Alison L. Kent, Andrew Ramsden, Lynette Moore, Gurmeet Singh, Wendy E. Hoy, M. Jane Black

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60 Citations (Scopus)


Worldwide, approximately 10% of neonates are born preterm. The majority of preterm neonates are born when the kidneys are still developing; therefore, during the early postnatal period renal function is likely reflective of renal immaturity and/or injury. This study evaluated glomerular and tubular function and urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL; a marker of renal injury) in preterm neonates during the first month of life. Preterm and term infants were recruited from Monash Newborn (neonatal intensive care unit at Monash Medical Centre) and Jesse McPherson Private Hospital, respectively. Infants were grouped according to gestational age at birth: ≤28 wk (n = 33), 29-31 wk (n = 44), 32-36 wk (n = 32), and term (≥37 wk (n = 22)). Measures of glomerular and tubular function were assessed on postnatal days 3-7, 14, 21, and 28. Glomerular and tubular function was significantly affected by gestational age at birth, as well as by postnatal age. By postnatal day 28, creatinine clearance remained significantly lower among preterm neonates compared with term infants; however, sodium excretion was not significantly different. Pathological proteinuria and high urinary NGAL levels were observed in a number of neonates, which may be indicative of renal injury; however, there was no correlation between the two markers. Findings suggest that neonatal renal function is predominantly influenced by renal maturity, and there was high capacity for postnatal tubular maturation among preterm neonates. There is insufficient evidence to suggest that urinary NGAL is a useful marker of renal injury in the preterm neonate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F149-F158
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Renal Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Preterm birth
  • Proteinuria
  • Renal development
  • Renal injury


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