Background: Cystatin C (Cys-C) is a more sensitive marker of renal function than creatinine (Cre) in pediatric and adult populations. However, the reference values of serum Cys-C for estimating glomerular filtration rates (eGFRs) in premature infants during the first year of life have not been sufficiently studied. Methods: In this prospective study, 481 blood samples were collected from 261 preterm infants with uncomplicated clinical courses during their first year of life. Infants were divided into three groups according to gestational age at birth: 27- 30 weeks, 31-33 weeks, and 34-36 weeks. Serum Cys-C and Cre levels were measured at 6-30 days, 3-5 months, 7- 9 months, and 12-14 months after birth and the eGFR was calculated using two previously published equations. Results: The median serum Cys-C levels were 1.776, 1.248, 1.037, and 0.960 mg/L at the first, second, third, and fourth measurement time-point, respectively, with the value significantly decreasing with age up to 12-14 months. Cys-C levels were independent of gestational age and gender. In contrast to Cys-C, serum Cre values declined rapidly up to 3-5 months, then remained constant up to 12-14 months. Using the Cys-C-based equation, the eGFR significantly increased with increasing age until approximately 1 year after birth; however, no such trend was noted using the equation based on Cys-C + Cre. Conclusions: Reference ranges for Cys-C in premature infants decline gradually over the first year after birth. Cys-C appears to be a more reliable marker than Cre for estimating GFR in preterm infants.
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