Evaluation of a commercial in-house test kit for the semi-quantitative assessment of microalbuminuria in cats.
Proteinuria was assessed in 100 randomly selected sick cats and 22 healthy cats by means of the urine protein:creatinine ratio, a traditional urine "dipstick" and a commercial ELISA-based dipstick designed to detect microalbuminuria (MA) semi-quantitatively. In addition the repeatability and reproducibility of the MA test was assessed by comparing results of five replicate tests of 26 urine samples, interpreted by two different readers. Discrepancies existed in the replicate test result in 23 and 27% of the samples examined by reader 1 and 2, respectively, and on several occasions this discrepancy was between whether the sample was "positive" or "negative" for MA. The inter-reader agreement was good (kappa=0.75), but again discrepancies were noted and part of the reason for these problems appeared to be the necessary subjectivity in the interpretation of colour changes when reading test results. Proteinuria was significantly (P< or =0.014) more prevalent in the sick than the healthy cats with 36 and 9%, respectively, having detectable MA, 34 and 5%, respectively, having a urine protein to creatinine (UPC) ratio >0.5, and 84 and 9%, respectively, having positive urine protein dipstick analysis. There was a moderate significant correlation between UPC ratio and MA concentrations (r(s)=0.68, P< or =0.5 had positive MA results, 10/84 cats with negative MA results had a UPC ratio >0.5, and none of these had evidence of lower urinary tract disease. This study confirmed that MA and proteinuria are commonly seen in cats with a variety of diseases, but they are not necessarily both elevated, and the UPC ratio can be elevated without an increase in MA results. Furthermore, some repeatability problems were demonstrated with the semi-quantitative MA test. These findings demonstrate that the semi-quantitative MA test should not be relied on as the sole determinant of proteinuria.
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