JOURNAL ARTICLE

Exostosin 1/Exostosin 2-Associated Membranous Nephropathy

Sanjeev Sethi, Benjamin J Madden, Hanna Debiec, M Cristine Charlesworth, LouAnn Gross, Aishwarya Ravindran, Amber M Hummel, Ulrich Specks, Fernando C Fervenza, Pierre Ronco
Journal of the American Society of Nephrology: JASN 2019, 30 (6): 1123-1136
31061139

BACKGROUND: In membranous nephropathy (MN), which is characterized by deposition of immune complexes along the glomerular basement membrane (GBM), phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R) and thrombospondin type 1 domain-containing 7A are target antigens in approximately 70% and 1%-5% of cases of primary MN, respectively. In other cases of primary MN and in secondary MN, the target antigens are unknown.

METHODS: We studied 224 cases of biopsy-proven PLA2R-negative MN and 102 controls (including 47 cases of PLA2R-associated MN) in pilot and discovery cohorts. We also evaluated 48 cases of PLA2R-negative presumed primary MN and lupus MN in a validation cohort. We used laser microdissection and mass spectrometry to identify new antigens, which were localized by immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: Mass spectrometry detected exostosin 1 (EXT1) and exostosin 2 (EXT2) in 21 cases of PLA2R-negative MN, but not in PLA2R-associated MN and control cases. Immunohistochemistry staining revealed bright granular GBM staining for EXT1 and EXT2. Clinical and biopsy findings showed features of autoimmune disease, including lupus, in 80.7% of the 26 EXT1/EXT2-associated MN cases we identified. In the validation cohort, we confirmed that EXT1/EXT2 staining was detected in pure class 5 lupus nephritis (eight of 18 patients) and in presumed primary MN associated with signs of autoimmunity (three of 16 patients); only one of the 14 cases of mixed class 5 and 3/4 lupus nephritis was positive for EXT1/EXT2. Tests in seven patients with EXT1/EXT2-associated MN found no circulating anti-exostosin antibodies.

CONCLUSIONS: A subset of MN is associated with accumulation of EXT1 and EXT2 in the GBM. Autoimmune disease is common in this group of patients.

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