Profiling renal dysfunction using Raman chemometric urinalysis, with special reference to COVID19, lupus nephritis, and diabetic nephropathy
Background: Many systemic and urinary tract diseases alter renal structure and function, including changing the composition of urine. While routine urinalysis (physical properties, sediment evaluation, urine chemistry analytes) is useful in screening, it has limitations on separating disease processes, structural changes, and functional abnormalities. Likewise, while many individual ‘biomarkers’ have been used to screen for disease, they have not met with widespread clinical adoption. The recent COVID19 Pandemic and the recognition of post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) have highlighted the need for rapid, scalable, economical, and accurate screening tools for managing disease. Aims: Validate a Raman spectroscopy-based screening technology for urine analysis that could be used for recognition and quantification of systemic and renal effects of acute and PASC COVID19 disease. Methods: One hundred ten (110) urine specimens were obtained from consented adults diagnosed with COVID19 disease by RT-PCR and/or proximate (household) contact With RT-PCR-confirmed COVID19 disease. Samples were analyzed using Raman chemometric urinalysis, a technology that detects hundreds of discrete chemicals in urine and applies computational comparison-machine learning to detect COVID19-associated molecular patterns (‘fingerprints’). Results: When compared with the urine multimolecular ‘fingerprints’ of healthy individuals and patients with known systemic diseases (diabetes mellitus, lupus) that alter renal structure and function, patients with acute and PASC COVID19 had unique ‘fingerprints’ indicative of alterations in renal function (i.e. – infection altered urine composition). Differences in disease severity (mild to severe) were reflected by different ‘fingerprints’ in urine. Roughly 20% of hospitalized patients developed a degree of renal dysfunction (decrements in eGFR) that were correlated with distinct changes in urine fingerprints. Conclusion: Raman chemometric urinalysis may be a useful tool in management of patients with COVID19 disease, particularly in detecting patients with evolving renal dysfunction for whom there should be attention to medication use and renal health restoration/preservation.