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Raghavan Murugan, MD, MS, Awarded Grant to Study a Test for AKI in Pregnant Women

Mon, 06/11/2018

Acute kidney injury (AKI), also known as a “kidney attack,” is a serious problem during pregnancy yet there is no test to diagnose AKI early in pregnancy. Raghavan Murugan, MD, MS, has been awarded a grant from the Volunteer Service Board (VSB) of the Magee-Womens Research Institute & Foundation to study a novel urine test recently approved by the FDA for diagnosing AKI in critically ill adults.

“This new test called Nephrocheck has never been studied in pregnant women for diagnosing AKI,” said Dr. Murugan, who is associate professor of Critical Care Medicine and Clinical & Translational Science as well as ICU Director and Chief of Critical Care Medicine at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. “There is a critical need for a new test to detect AKI early in pregnant women.”

Dr. Murugan explained that due to pregnancy-related changes conventional tests for diagnosing AKI, including serum creatinine and urine output, do not detect AKI early in pregnancy. Serum creatinine lacks sensitivity and increases only after substantial kidney damage has already occurred while urine output is more sensitive but lacks specificity for AKI and is not routinely monitored in pregnant women.

The VSB grant will be used to study these novel urine biomarkers in 100 high-risk pregnant women who are admitted to the hospital and 100 women with healthy pregnancies who are seen in the clinic. The project has two goals: 

  • To examine whether these biomarkers predict the development of AKI maternal and fetal complications during pregnancy in high-risk pregnant women 
  • To establish a reference range for these biomarkers during normal pregnancy

The 12-month study will begin July 1, 2018.