Measurement of glomerular filtration rate

F. Gaspari, N. Perico, G. Remuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the standard measure of renal function and is critical for the diagnosis and management of renal diseases. Rigorous assessment of GFR requires the measurement of renal clearance of an exogenous marker that is freely filtered by the kidney, and that does not undergo metabolism, tubular secretion or absorption, such as inulin. While its clearance provides the most accurate method of measuring GFR, it is not suitable for routine clinical practice. Labeled compounds as alternative filtration markers, including 125I-iothalamate and (99m)Tc- diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA), provide accurate and precise GFR measurements, but their use may be limited for safety reasons. To avoid exposing patients to radiation investigators have proposed clearance procedures using minute doses of non-radioactive contrast agents, including iothalamate (ionic) and iohexol (non-ionic). This approach provides similar accuracy to inulin clearance. The most important limitation of all renal clearance methods is that urine is collected by spontaneous voiding, stimulated by water loading, and thus subject to errors due to incomplete emptying of the bladder. Thus, plasma clearance of a suitable exogenous marker (51Cr-EDTA, 125I-iothalamate, iohexol) has been suggested for measuring renal function, in which the elimination rate of the tracer after a single intravenous injection is evaluated. Plasma clearance of these markers estimated by multiple blood samples provides more precise information, but repeated sampling makes this method cumbersome. To overcome this drawback, abbreviated kinetic profiles have been proposed to predict GFR from the plasma disappearance curve (elimination phase). On analyzing the data with a simplified method that uses a one-compartment model (six blood samples only in the elimination phase), corrected with the Brochner-Mortensen formula, an excellent correlation was found with inulin clearance. This method is currently employed for measuring GFR in multicenter clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalKidney international. Supplement
Issue number63
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Clinical trials
  • Glomerular filtration rate
  • Inulin clearance
  • Measurement of GFR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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