Importance: The severity of acute kidney injury (AKI) is usually determined based on the maximum serum creatinine concentration. However, the trajectory of kidney function recovery could be an additional important dimension of AKI severity. Objective: To assess whether the trajectory of kidney function recovery within 72 hours after AKI is associated with long-term risk of clinical outcomes. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective, multicenter cohort study enrolled 1538 adults with or without AKI 3 months after hospital discharge between December 1, 2009, and February 28, 2015. Statistical analyses were completed November 1, 2018. Participants with or without AKI were matched based on demographic characteristics, site, comorbidities, and prehospitalization estimated glomerular filtration rate. Participants with AKI were classified as having resolving or nonresolving AKI based on previously published definitions. Resolving AKI was defined as a decrease in serum creatinine concentration of 0.3 mg/dL or more or 25% or more from maximum in the first 72 hours after AKI diagnosis. Nonresolving AKI was defined as AKI not meeting the definition for resolving AKI. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was a composite of major adverse kidney events (MAKE), defined as incident or progressive chronic kidney disease, long-term dialysis, or all-cause death during study follow-up. Results: Among 1538 participants (964 men; mean [SD] age, 64.6 [12.7] years), 769 (50%) had no AKI, 475 (31%) had a resolving AKI pattern, and 294 (19%) had a nonresolving AKI pattern. After a median follow-up of 4.7 years, the outcome of MAKE occurred in 550 (36%) of all participants. The adjusted hazard ratio for MAKE was higher for patients with resolving AKI (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.01-2.29; P = .04) and those with nonresolving AKI (adjusted hazard ratio 2.30; 95% CI, 1.52-3.48; P < .001) compared with participants without AKI. Within the population of patients with AKI, nonresolving AKI was associated with a 51% greater risk of MAKE (95% CI, 22%-88%; P < .001) compared with resolving AKI. The higher risk of MAKE among patients with nonresolving AKI was explained by a higher risk of incident and progressive chronic kidney disease. Conclusions and Relevance: This study suggests that the 72-hour period immediately after AKI distinguishes the risk of clinically important kidney-specific long-term outcomes. The identification of different AKI recovery patterns may improve patient risk stratification, facilitate prognostic enrichment in clinical trials, and enable recognition of patients who may benefit from nephrology consultation.
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