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Recurrent Membranous Nephropathy in an Allograft Caused by IgG3k Targeting the PLA2 Receptor

Up to 80% of patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy have non-complement-fixing IgG4 autoantibodies to the phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R).

By Hanna Debiec, Melanie Hanoy, Arnaud Francois, Dominique Guerrot, Sophie Ferlicot, Catherine Johanet, Pierre Aucouturier, Michel Godin and Pierre Ronco

November 2, 2012 -- Membranous nephropathy recurs in approximately 40% of patients after kidney transplantation, but the mechanism is unknown. Here, we describe a patient with recurrent membranous nephropathy 13 days after kidney transplantation whose graft biopsy specimen showed granular staining for C3, C5b-9, C1q, and IgG3k; electron microscopy revealed subepithelial nonorganized deposits. A search for hematologic disorders was negative. Retrospective evaluation of a biopsy sample from the native kidney revealed a similar pattern: monotypic IgG3k deposits together with C3, C1q, and C5b-9. Glomerular deposits contained PLA2R in both the graft and the native kidney, suggesting that the recurrence was the result of circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies binding to PLA2R antigen expressed on donor podocytes. Confocal analysis of anti-PLA2R and antihuman IgG3k showed co-localization, and the patient had IgG3k-restricted circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies. Treatment with rituximab stabilized both proteinuria and serum creatinine, and circulating anti-PLA2R became undetectable. In summary, this case of recurrent membranous nephropathy in a graft suggests that circulating monoclonal anti-PLA2R IgG3k caused the disease and activated complement by the classic pathway.

Source: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology © 2012

Also See: A New Specific Test for MN