The value of serum cystatin C in early evaluation of renal insufficiency in patients undergoing chemotherapy: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Liyun He
  • Jine Li
  • Jinfeng Zhan
  • Fengming Yi
  • Xiude Fan
  • Yiping Wei
  • Wenxiong ZhangEmail author
Original Article



Several studies have shown that cystatin C levels can be used to detect decline in renal function in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, and can serve as a supplement to creatinine level measurement for early detection of renal insufficiency. Nevertheless, use of the parameter remains controversial. This study aimed to assess the value of serum cystatin C levels in evaluation of early renal insufficiency due to chemotherapy.


Studies were retrieved from PubMed, Ovid Embase, the Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, Ovid, and the CNKI databases up to May 15, 2018. Serum levels of cystatin C before and after chemotherapy were evaluated for its ability to assess renal function.


A total of 12 studies, including 1775 participants, met our inclusion and exclusion criteria. Pooled analysis revealed that the levels of serum cystatin C in cancer patients after chemotherapy were significantly higher than those of patients prior to treatment [standard mean difference (SMD) = 0.54, 95% CI 0.34–0.74, P = 0.0000]. Compared to creatinine, serum cystatin C increased significantly in the early phases of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) change before and after chemotherapy (GFR ≥ 90 ml/min/1.73 m2, P < 0.05 vs. P > 0.05, 5.83%; 60 < GFR < 90 ml/min/1.73 m2, P < 0.01 vs. P > 0.01, 38.83%) and increased more substantially in the later phases (GFR < 60 ml/min/1.73 m2, P < 0.01 vs. P < 0.01, 70.87% vs. 23.09%). However, creatinine decreased even in the early phases and did not increase in an obvious manner until the later phases (GFR < 60 ml/min/1.73 m2, P < 0.01, 23.09%). The GFR values were derived from measured methods.


Cystatin C may be superior to creatinine for the detection of minor changes in GFR in early stages of renal insufficiency secondary to chemotherapy. More studies are needed to further verify this result.


Cystatin C Renal insufficiency Chemotherapy Meta-analysis 



Thanks are due to investigators, surgeons and patients who participated in this study. We would like to thank the native English speaking scientists of Elixigen Company (Huntington Beach, California) for editing our manuscript.


This work was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Grant number 81560345).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent was not required for this study.

Supplementary material

280_2018_3762_MOESM1_ESM.doc (64 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 64 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Thoracic SurgeryThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang UniversityNanchangChina
  2. 2.Jiangxi Medical CollegeNanchang UniversityNanchangChina
  3. 3.Department of NephrologyThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang UniversityNanchangChina
  4. 4.Department of OncologyThe Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang UniversityNanchangChina
  5. 5.Department of Infectious DiseasesThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina

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