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Clinicopathological features and outcome of antibody-negative anti-glomerular basement membrane disease.

AIM: To explore the clinicopathological characteristics of patients with anti-GBM antibody-negative anti-GBM disease.

METHODS: The clinical and renal pathological findings were retrospectively studied in 19 patients. All patients met the following inclusion criteria: linear GBM IgG deposition on immunofluorescence(IF); and lack of serum anti-GBM antibodies by ELISA and indirect immunofluorescence assay.

RESULTS: There were 17 male and two female patients, with a median age of 36 years (range 15-61 years). Hypertension was present in 68% of cases, nephrotic-range proteinuria (> 3.5 g/24 hours) in 42%, nephrotic syndrome in 37%, microhaematuria in 95%, renal insufficiency in 63% and lung involvement in 16%. On biopsy all patients had linear GBM staining for polyclonal IgG by IF. The dominant IgG subtype was IgG4 or IgG1. By light microscopy, mesangial proliferative GN without crescents was seen in four patients; proliferative GN (mesangial proliferative GN in eight; endocapillary proliferative GN in two; and membranoproliferative GN in two) with crescents (focal in 11; diffuse in one) in 12 patients; and crescentic GN without mesangial or endocapillary proliferative or membranoproliferative changes in three patients. By electron microscopy, six patients showed scarce electron dense deposits in glomeruli and 11 patients had global podocyte effacement. Totally, 10 (53%) patients received immunosuppressive therapy. The median follow-up was 15 months and six (32%) patients progressed to end-stage renal disease.

CONCLUSIONS: Anti-GBM antibody-negative anti-GBM disease was different from classic anti-GBM disease clinically and pathologically. The pathogenesis of the renal injury in these patients has not been elucidated until now and it should be studied and identified further.

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