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Alpha1-microglobulin, beta2-microglobulin and retinol binding protein in childhood febrile illness and renal disease


Serum and urinary levels of alpha-1-microglobulin (A1M), beta-2-microglobulin (B2M) and retinol binding protein (RBP) were measured using a Mancini radial immunodiffusion technique in 52 children with renal disease, 36 with non-renal febrile illness and 29 controls. In controls the mean serum level for A1M was 25±4.6 (SD) mg/l for B2M 1.7±0.5 mg/l and for RBP 31±8 mg/l. A1M levels were not significantly altered by febrile illness while B2M was elevated and RBP markedly depressed. Serum A1M and B2M were elevated in the nephrotic syndrome, while serum B2M was also raised during infancy. Coefficients of log-transformed data with creatinine-derived glomerular filtration rate (GFR) were −0.87 for B2M, −0.71 for RBP, and −0.62 for A1M. In the urine A1M was always measurable in controls while B2M and RBP were undetectable in all but a small number. The urine levels of all three proteins increased in response to non-renal febrile illness, and rose invariably when GFR fell to below 40–50 ml/min per 1.73 m2. Of the three proteins A1M was most frequently elevated in the urine with febrile and renal illness. RBP was rarely detectable when the other two proteins were not. Urinary A1M was consistently elevated in the nephrotic syndrome in contrast to B2M, possibly as a reflection of the increased glomerular permeability. We conclude that serum B2M is superior to A1M and RBP as an index of glomerular filtration, although its levels should be interpreted with caution in febrile disease. With the Mancini assay both urinary A1M and B2M measurement are of value, especially when taken in combination, but further work is required to determine the specificity of A1M for tubular as opposed to glomerular dysfunction, especially in the nephrotic state.

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Correspondence to Malcolm D. C. Donaldson.

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Donaldson, M.D.C., Chambers, R.E., Woolridge, M.W. et al. Alpha1-microglobulin, beta2-microglobulin and retinol binding protein in childhood febrile illness and renal disease. Pediatr Nephrol 4, 314–318 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00862506

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Key words

  • Alpha1-microglobulin
  • Beta2-microglobulin
  • Retinol binding protein
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Febrile illness