The timeless method: The Jaffe Reaction

Blood creatinine concentration is measured for purposes such as diagnosis of kidney failure, determination of its stage, follow-up of treatment, and evaluation of prognosis.

In addition, from time to time, urine creatinine concentration is measured and evaluated alone or in combination with other test parameters (such as protein). The only way to make these measurements is to use specific analytical methods. One of the commonly used methods is the Jaffe reaction. The creatinine concentration is determined from blood and urine samples by the Jaffe reaction, which is a colorimetric method1.

Max Jaffe

132 years ago (1886) Max Jaffe (1841-1911) discovered that creatinine reacts with picric acid in an alkaline environment and explained this by publishing his article “Über den Niederschlag, welchen Pikrinsäure in normalem Harn erzeugt und über eine neue Reaction des Kreatinins”2. The article describes this reaction and the nature of the precipitate formed. Jaffe’s discovery was a turning point. As a result of this study, the method of measuring creatinine concentration, which has become extremely popular and defied time, was born.

Over time, Jaffe’s name became synonymous with clinical creatinine testing, although his article later became the permanent method and the principle of further studies. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Otto Folin (1867-1934), taking up the research of Max Jaffe, developed a colorimetric method for measuring the concentration of creatinine in blood and urine3 and made it into modern biochemistry analysis.

Although there are more specific analytical methods4 today, this unique test is still used as the preferred method due to its simplicity of implementation, speed, compatibility with automated analyzers, and cost-effectiveness. Besides, the Jaffe reaction is the oldest test method used in clinical laboratories.


  1. Delanghe JR, Speeckaert MM. Creatinine determination according to Jaffe – What does it stand for? NDT Plus. 2011;4(2):83-86. doi:
  2. Jaffe M. Ueber den Niederschlag, welchen Pikrinsäure in normalem Harn erzeugt und über eine neue Reaction des Kreatinins. ZPhysiolChem. 1886. doi:
  3. Folin O. Beitrag zur Chemie des Kreatinins und Kreatins im Harne. Hoppe Seylers Z Physiol Chem. 1904. doi:
  4. Panteghini M, IFCC. Enzymatic assays for creatinine: Time for action. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2008;46(4):567-572. doi:

Edited on: 20 October 2022