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JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Multiorgan gadolinium (Gd) deposition and fibrosis in a patient with nephrogenic systemic fibrosis—an autopsy-based review

Soma Sanyal, Peter Marckmann, Susanne Scherer, Jerrold L Abraham
Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation 2011, 26 (11): 3616-26
21441397

BACKGROUND: Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is a systemic disorder of patients with severe renal insufficiency who have received gadolinium (Gd)-based magnetic resonance contrast agents (GBCAs). The causative association with Gd exposure was strengthened by the demonstration of Gd in various tissues of NSF patients, predominantly at the bulk chemical level. The distribution of Gd at the histologic level of organs other than skin has not been reported previously.

METHODS: We analysed tissues from an autopsy case with verified advanced NSF by light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy/energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. Furthermore, we reviewed published literature to compare the histological and histochemical findings in NSF patients and chronic renal failure (CRF) patients without NSF.

RESULTS: Insoluble Gd-phosphate deposits were detected in the skin, liver, lungs, intestinal wall (ileum), kidney, lymph node, skeletal muscle, dura mater and cerebellum of the NSF autopsy case, primarily in vascular walls. Some, but not all, Gd deposits were seen in fibrotic areas. Literature review highlighted that non-specific tissue fibrosis and calcification are frequent findings in tissues of patients with CRF with and without NSF.

CONCLUSIONS: Vascular and extracellular Gd deposits are found in multiple organs of NSF patients, associated with calcification, and often in fibrotic areas. Gd deposits are not seen in patients with CRF unexposed to GBCAs but rarely may be seen in GBCA-exposed patients without clinical signs of NSF. Apart from diagnostic findings in skin, fibrosis of muscle and dura may be more prominent in NSF patients. Our findings should stimulate further investigation of mechanisms of fibrosis and pathologic calcification.

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