Did you know that up to 50% of renal function can be lost before significant creatinine elevation occurs? Unlike creatinine, Cystatin C does not suffer from this ‘blind area’. Cystatin C is extremely sensitive to very small changes in GFR and is therefore capable of detecting early stage kidney dysfunction. Furthermore, Cystatin C is a particularly useful marker of renal function in patients where creatinine measurements are not suitable e.g. individuals who are obese, malnourished, have liver cirrhosis or reduced muscle mass.
Cystatin C is a small (13 kDa) cysteine proteinase inhibitor that is produced at a constant rate by all nucleated cells. The small molecular weight of Cystatin C allows it to be completely removed and broken down by the kidneys, levels therefore remain steady if the kidneys are working efficiently and the Glomerular Filtration Rate (GFR) is normal.
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