Podocyte number predicts progression of proteinuria in IgA nephropathy

Lan Xu, Hai-Chun Yang, Chuan-Ming Hao, Shan-Tan Lin, Yong Gu, Ji Ma
Modern Pathology 2010, 23 (9): 1241-50
Podocyte injury is a feature of glomerulopathies associated with proteinuria, which in turn has been used as a clinical prognostic factor for glomerular diseases. The goal of this study is to investigate the relationship between podocyte injury found in biopsied renal tissue and change of proteinuria in IgA nephropathy (IgAN). In all, 35 patients with biopsy-proven IgAN and proteinuria (>1.0 g per 24 h) were enrolled in the IgAN group, while 8 patients with excision of renal harmatoma or carcinoma served as kidney controls (Control). Immunohistochemistry was applied to detect the expression of nestin, cell-cycle regulatory protein p27, as well as complement C5b-9 and complement receptor 1 (CR1). Podocyte foot process width (FPW) and podocyte population in renal biopsied samples were measured by morphometric analysis. On the basis of the podocyte density (Nv), the IgAN patients were divided into podocytopenic group (n=17, Nv<57.10 /microm(3) x 10(6)) and normopodocytic group (n=18, Nv> or =57.10 /microm(3) x 10(6)). Changes of proteinuria were followed for 18 months after biopsy. Compared with the Control, IgAN glomeruli had reduced podocyte expression of p27 and nestin along with decreased podocyte number. IgAN glomeruli also showed activation of C5b-9 in mesangial and subepithelial areas with decreased CR1 expression in podocytes. The C5b-9 positivity was inversely correlated with the number of WT-1-positive podocytes. Although the magnitude of proteinuria at biopsy correlated with podocyte FPW (P<0.05), the change in the amount of proteinuria expressed as proteinuria progression rate significantly correlated with the podocyte density. Thus, the normopodocytic group showed significantly lower proteinuria progression rate than the podocytopenic group regardless the comparable clinical features at biopsy and treatment regimen between the two groups. The results of this study indicate that, in IgAN, podocyte injury is involved in development of proteinuria and loss of podocytes predicts progression of the proteinuria. Complement activation may contribute to podocyte damage in IgAN.

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