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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 1999 Jul;14(7):1723-31.

Renal transplantation in patients with dense deposit disease: morphological characteristics of recurrent disease and clinical outcome.

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Division of Nephrology, University Hospital Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Dense deposit disease (DDD) is an uncommon cause of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). As a consequence, information on the outcome of renal transplantation in patients with DDD comes from series with a limited number of patients.


We present the histological and clinical data of 13 adult patients with DDD, who received their first allograft in our centre in the period between 1983 and 1994.


Renal transplant biopsies were performed in 11 patients, at 2.9 months after transplantation (median; range 0.4-13.8 months). The indication for taking the biopsy was in all instances a raised serum creatinine level. Five patients also had a significant proteinuria. In only one patient, light microscopy showed alterations in the capillary walls suggestive of a recurrence of DDD. However, by immunofluorescence or electron microscopy, we found glomerular deposits compatible with a recurrence of DDD in all 11 patients. Three patterns of glomerular C3 deposition were found: globular depositions only in the mesangium; mesangial accumulation with linear deposits in the capillary wall; and prominent linear presence in the capillary wall with only a few mesangial granules. The findings by electron microscopy matched the immunofluorescence results. The linear C3 accumulation in the capillary wall was visible ultrastructurally as electron-dense ribbon-like transformation of the glomerular basement membrane. Mesangial C3 deposits were seen ultrastructurally as local electron-dense deposits in the mesangium. Four patients showed a pronounced glomerular influx of neutrophils, accompanied by crescents in three patients. In these three latter patients, the recurrence of DDD was the only histological lesion. In the other patients, the recurrence was merely a coincidence, the biopsy demonstrating an additional histological lesion (three chronic vascular rejection, two acute rejection, one ischaemic necrosis and two cyclosporin A toxicity). Eight patients with a recurrence of DDD have progressed to ESRD at an average of 14 months (range 0.2-38 months) after transplantation. The recurrence was the sole cause of graft loss in the three patients with crescents. The patients in whom the C3 deposits were confined to the mesangium appeared to have a better prognosis.


The histological recurrence rate of DDD is high. The histological picture is quite diverse, and in most patients abnormalities are only found by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. Up to one-quarter of the patients with DDD lost their grafts because of a recurrence.

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