Ultrastructural alterations of glomerular anionic sites in IgA nephropathy

K Okada, K Kawakami, I Yano, M Funai, S Kagami, Y Kuroda, T Oite
Clinical Nephrology 1989, 31 (2): 96-102
The ultrastructural alterations of glomerular anionic sites were studied in biopsy specimens from 34 patients with IgA nephropathy using polyethyleneimine (PEI). Prominent common findings in the glomeruli of the patients were few PEI particles in electron dense deposits in the mesangial and subepithelial area and marked reduction in glomerular anionic sites covered with deposits. The anionic sites of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) and epithelial cell surface coat (ESC) appeared unaltered in the patients with hematuria and/or mild proteinuria. But in patients with proteinuria in the nephrotic range, focally discrete loss of anionic sites in the lamina rara externa (LRE) was seen and the number of anionic sites of the ESC were decreased with retraction of the foot processes. The anionic sites of the lamina rara interna showed much less change in these patients. Subepithelial deposits were often seen concomitantly with focal loss of anionic sites in the LRE at the site of the deposits, but subendothelial deposits had little influence on the anionic sites of the neighboring GBM. The anionic sites of GBM that showed focal thinning with small GBM projections were appreciably decreased in number, but those in split GBM were not decreased. These results suggest that either loss of the negative charge on the glomerular capillary wall associated with subepithelial immune deposition or morphological changes of the GBM contribute to the progression of proteinuria in IgA nephropathy.

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