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Clin Exp Immunol. 1992 Jun;88(3):394-8.

Increased and prolonged production of specific polymeric IgA after systemic immunization with tetanus toxoid in IgA nephropathy.

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Department of Nephrology, Leicester General Hospital, UK.


IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is a chronic form of glomerulonephritis which is characterized by the deposition in the glomerular mesangium of polymeric IgA (pIgA), the source of which is unknown. In order to investigate the production of pIgA in IgAN, patients were immunized systemically with tetanus toxoid (TT). Two weeks after immunization patients and controls responded to TT with an IgA response of similar magnitude. HPLC separation of sera showed that patients with IgAN produce significantly more pIgA anti-TT than controls (7.7 versus 2.88 arbitrary units; P less than 0.04). At this time, 33% of serum IgA anti-TT produced by patients with IgAN was polymeric, compared with 21% produced by controls (P less than 0.02). Monomeric IgA (mIgA) anti-TT levels were similar in both groups. Four weeks after immunization the proportion of pIgA anti-TT in controls and patients was significantly reduced from the 2 week level (from 21% to 0%, P less than 0.02 for controls; and from 33% to 8%, P less than 0.001, for patients). Only four out of 12 controls had any detectable pIgA anti-TT at this time compared with nine out of 10 patients with IgAN (P less than 0.05), and IgAN patients produced proportionally more pIgA anti-TT than did controls (median 8%, interquartile ranges (IQR) 4-10% versus 0% IQR 0-3%; P less than 0.01). HPLC analysis under acid conditions did not alter the pattern of pIgA and mIgA anti-TT, suggesting that the high molecular weight IgA fraction was not due to complexes. These data indicate that circulating pIgA results (at least in part) from a systemic response to antigen, which may be exaggerated in IgAN.

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