The role of urinary NGAL and serum cystatin C in assessing the severity of ureteropelvic junction obstruction in infants

  • Antigoni PavlakiEmail author
  • Nikoleta Printza
  • Evangelia Farmaki
  • Stella Stabouli
  • Anna Taparkou
  • Magdalini Sterpi
  • John Dotis
  • Fotios Papachristou
Original Article



The ideal management of ureteropelvic junction obstruction (UPJO) remains debatable. This prospective case-control study aimed to investigate if urinary levels of Neutrophil Gelatinase-Associated Lipocalin (NGAL) and serum levels of cystatin C could distinguish surgical from non-surgical cases of UPJO and if they could detect earlier impairment of renal function.


Biomarkers were measured in the following age-matched groups: (a) 22 infants with surgical UPJO, at initial diagnosis and 12 months postoperatively (groups A1 and A2, respectively); (b) 19 infants with non-surgical UPJO (group B); and (c) 17 controls (group C). Based on serum cystatin C levels, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated.


Urinary NGAL (uNGAL) was significantly higher in group A1 vs. group A2 (p = 0.02) and in group A1 vs. group C (p = 0.03), whereas there was no statistically significant difference between groups A2 and C (p = 0.77). Likewise, cystatin C levels were significantly higher in group A1 vs. group A2 and in group A1 vs. group C (p = 0.004 and p = 0.02, respectively), but no statistically significant difference between groups A2 and C (p = 0.82). uNGAL and serum cystatin C did not differ between groups B and A, nor did they differ between groups B and C. Cystatin C levels and eGFR of group A1 were significantly higher than those of group A2 and group C (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.02, respectively).


It seems that NGAL and cystatin C are able to distinguish patients who were treated surgically from healthy controls, and their levels appear to improve significantly following surgery.


Ureteropelvic junction obstruction NGAL Cystatin C Biomarkers Hydronephrosis eGFR 


Compliance with ethical standards

The present study was approved by the Bioethics Committee of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (422/9.5.18).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Parents gave informed consent prior to the inclusion of their children in the study.

Ethical approval

The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.


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Copyright information

© IPNA 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Paediatric Nephrology Unit, First Department of Paediatrics, Hippokratio HospitalAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece
  2. 2.Paediatric Immunology and Rheumatology Referral Center, First Department of PaediatricsHippokratio HospitalThessalonikiGreece
  3. 3.Department of Neonatology and Neonatal Intensive Care UnitHippokratio HospitalThessalonikiGreece

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