Estimation of Burden of Kidney Dysfunction in HIV-infected Pediatrics and Adolescents by Use of Urinary Neutrophil Gelatinase-Associated Lipocalin: A Single Center Experience in Kenya

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Background: About 75% of patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) live in sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, about 1.5 million Kenyans are living with HIV, of whom almost 100,000 are children and adolescents. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has converted HIV infection to a chronic illness with its attendant complications. Kidney disease is a common complication of HIV infection and its treatment. Kidney disease in HIV-infected persons can be asymptomatic, insidious onset and may lack specific clinical features. It can only be detected on active screening. The urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) using serum creatinine are not sensitive in identification of early kidney injury. Urinary neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (uNGAL) has been used as marker of early kidney injury.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used uNGAL and serum creatinine to determine the prevalence of kidney dysfunction in HIV infected children and adolescents with HAART at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya, from March 2016 to February 2017. Urine samples were assayed for uNGAL using the Bio Porto® enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Serum creatinine was assayed using the Jaffe reaction in the Cobas® 6000 biochemistry analyzer and eGFR calculated using the Schwartz formula. Scatter plot of eGFR against log uNGAL levles was performed by Statistical Package for Social Sciences and Pearson correlation coefficeint between log uNGAL levles and eGFR was analyzed.

Results: Ninety-three patients were recruited. Their mean age was 11.8±3.6 years and the median duration on HAART was 72.6 months. Males were 47 (50.5%). The prevalence of kidney dysfunction using uNGAL was 15.1% (95% CI 7.6%–22.5%) and 5.4% (95% CI 1.8%–12.1%) by eGFR. The mean eGFR was 131±25mL·min1 ·1.73m2 and median uNGAL was 10 ng/mL. For every one ng/mL increase in uNGAL value above the normal value, eGFR decreases by 4.8mL·min1 ·1.73m2 (P=0.038). Patients with elevated uNGAL were older when compared with those with normal uNGAL (13.5 vs. 11.5 years).

Conclusion: Urinary NGAL picked up to three times more patients with kidney dysfunction than eGFR derived from serum creatinine. All the patients were asymptomatic. Older children and adolescents were more likely to manifest with kidney dysfunction. Further studies are necessary to evaluate if uNGAL can be utilized routinely to evaluate for early kidney disease in HIV infected patients.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.