Pathology after eculizumab in dense deposit disease and C3 GN

Leal C Herlitz, Andrew S Bomback, Glen S Markowitz, M Barry Stokes, R Neal Smith, Robert B Colvin, Gerald B Appel, Vivette D D'Agati
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: JASN 2012, 23 (7): 1229-37
Eculizumab might benefit C3 glomerulopathies mediated by dysregulation of the alternative complement pathway. Here, we report renal biopsy findings before and after eculizumab therapy in three patients with dense deposit disease and two with C3 GN. All pretreatment biopsies had glomerular and tubular basement membrane deposits that stained exclusively for C3 without significant Ig. After 1 year of therapy, there was reduction in active glomerular proliferation and neutrophil infiltration in three of five patients, consistent with effective C5 blockade, which prevents production of chemotactin C5a. One individual with mild mesangial disease had no significant change in activity or chronicity. One patient exhibited persistent activity and worsening chronicity despite therapy. Immunofluorescence showed no significant reduction in C3 or C5b-9, and electron microscopy revealed persistent deposits in all cases, suggesting a long t(1/2) of C5b-9 in extracellular matrix. Normal renal biopsies stained positive for C5b-9 in glomeruli, tubular basement membranes, and vessel walls, albeit at lower intensity than in C3 glomerulopathy. This indication of physiologic levels of C5b-9 activation in normal kidney potentially explains the localization of deposits in patients with dysregulation of the alternative complement pathway. All post-treatment biopsies showed de novo monoclonal staining for IgG-κ in the same distribution as C3 and C5b-9, mimicking monoclonal Ig deposition disease (MIDD). Staining of the γ heavy chain was restricted to the IgG2 and IgG4 subclasses, suggesting the binding of monoclonal eculizumab to C5 in renal tissues. The long-term effects of this apparent drug-tissue interaction are unknown.

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