Does AKI Truly Lead to CKD?
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1681/asn.2011121185
Acute kidney injury (AKI) has been implicated as an independent risk factor for the development of CKD in recent observational studies. The presumption in the nephrology community is that this association represents a causal relationship. However, because of potential problems related to residual confounding (shared risk factors), ascertainment bias (sicker patients have more follow-up assessments), misclassification of exposure (problems with defining baseline kidney function and AKI representing a discrete event versus progression of renal disease), and misclassification of outcome (de novo CKD versus CKD progression), it is difficult to conclude with certainty that AKI is truly causal for CKD. In this review we highlight several of the Hill causality criteria to examine the existing evidence and point out the missing elements that preclude defining AKI as a cause of CKD in the general population. Only well-designed studies with rigorous assessment of kidney function in all participants (AKI and non-AKI) before and after the episode or hospitalization or randomized, controlled trials demonstrating that prevention or treatment of AKI reduces the incidence of subsequent CKD can clarify the causal nature of the AKI-CKD relationship.