Background: Nephrin is a protein in the glomerular podocyte slit diaphragm; therefore, its presence in urine implies damage to podocytes. This study aimed to determine the usefulness of nephrin as a biomarker in maternal urine to predict preeclampsia (PE).
Methods: This prospective study included pregnant women admitted for delivery at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital from March 2019 to May 2020. Patients who had been diagnosed with PE were included, and patients without a history of underlying diseases were recruited for the control group. Pertinent clinical data were collected. Urine samples were obtained, and nephrin signaling was detected through test strips using a lateral flow assay. The point-of-care test results were compared between patients with PE and without (control group), using the exact concentration of nephrin by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: Clinical characteristics - maternal age, parity, proportion of twin pregnancies, height, weight, and cesarean delivery rate - were comparable between the PE and control groups. Nephrin signals were classified into four groups. In the PE group, signals 0, 1, 2, and 3 were found in 18.4% (9/49), 44.9% (22/49), 24.5% (12/49), and 12.2% (6/49) of participants, respectively. Results were significantly different in the control group, in which 84.3% (43/51) were found to have signal 0 (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Nephrin signaling in maternal urine could be a noninvasive and useful test for early detection of severity of PE.