Open Access Articles- Top Results for Nephrotoxicity


Nephrotoxicity (from Greek: nephros, "kidney") is a poisonous effect of some substances, both toxic chemicals and medication, on the kidneys. There are various forms of toxicity.[1] Nephrotoxicity should not be confused with the fact that some medications have a predominantly renal excretion and need their dose adjusted for the decreased renal function (e.g., heparin).

Nephrotoxins are chemicals displaying nephrotoxicity.

The nephrotoxic effect of most drugs is more profound in patients already suffering from renal impairment. Some drugs may affect renal function in more than one way.

Types of toxicity


Direct tubular effect

Acute interstitial nephritis

Chronic interstitial nephritis

  • Lithium (Li)
  • cyclosporine [3]

Acute glomerulonephritis

Drug-induced glomerular disease is not common but there are a few drugs that have been implicated. Glomerular lesions occur primarily through immune-mediated pathways rather than through direct drug toxicity.

Causes of diabetes insipidus

Other nephrotoxins

  • Heavy metals interfere with enzymes of energy metabolism.
  • Aristolochic acid, found in some plants and in some herbal supplements derived from those plants, has been shown to have nephrotoxic effects on humans.


Nephrotoxicity is usually monitored through a simple blood test. A decreased creatinine clearance indicates poor renal function. Normal creatinine clearance levels are between 80 - 120 μmol/L. In interventional radiology, a patient's creatinine clearance levels are all checked prior to a procedure. Should a reduced creatinine clearance level be found, a special contrast medium or radiocontrast that is less harmful for the patient is used.

Serum creatinine is another measure of renal function, which may be more useful clinically when dealing with patients with early kidney disease.

See also


  1. ^ Galley HF (2000). "Can acute renal failure be prevented". J R Coll Surg Edinb 45 (1): 44–50. PMID 10815380. 
  2. ^ a b Naesens M, Kuypers DR, Sarwal M (2009). "Calcineurin inhibitor nephrotoxicity". Clin. J. Am. Soc. Nephrol. 4 (2): 481–509. PMID 19218475. doi:10.2215/CJN.04800908. 
  3. ^ a b USMLE WORLD QBanks 2009, Step1, Pharmacology, Q74

Further reading

  • Choudhury, Devasmita; Ahmed, Ziauddin (2006). "Drug-associated renal dysfunction and injury". Nature Clinical Practice Nephrology 2 (2): 80–91. PMID 16932399. doi:10.1038/ncpneph0076. 
  • Szeto, CC; Chow, KM (2005). "Nephrotoxicity related to new therapeutic compounds". Renal Failure 27 (3): 329–33. PMID 15957551. doi:10.1081/jdi-56595.