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Am J Kidney Dis. 2008 Oct;52(4):761-5. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2008.03.041. Epub 2008 Aug 26.

Antigenic heterogeneity of IgA anti-GBM disease: new renal targets of IgA autoantibodies.

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  • 1Section of Nephrology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


Anti-glomerular basement membrane (anti-GBM) disease is an aggressive form of glomerulonephritis, usually mediated by immunoglobulin G (IgG) autoantibodies to the noncollagenous (NC1) domain of alpha 3(IV) collagen. Less is known about the target antigen(s) in patients with atypical anti-GBM disease involving IgA autoantibodies. We report a new case of IgA anti-GBM disease in a patient with a history of proliferative lupus nephritis who presented with increasing creatinine levels, proteinuria, and hematuria, but no clinical or serological evidence of lupus recurrence. Renal biopsy showed focal and segmental necrotizing glomerulonephritis with strong linear capillary loop IgA staining by means of immunofluorescence. Serological test results were negative for IgG or IgA autoantibodies against the alpha 3NC1 domain. By means of immunoblotting, IgA from patient serum bound to 38- to 48-kd antigens collagenase-solubilized from human GBM, but not to purified NC1 domains of GBM collagen IV. The target of patient's IgA autoantibodies thus was identified as a novel GBM antigen, distinct from the alpha 3NC1 domain or other known targets of anti-GBM IgA autoantibodies. Clinical resolution was attained by means of conventional treatment with steroids and cyclophosphamide. The diversity of antigens recognized by anti-GBM IgA autoantibodies highlights the importance of renal biopsy for the reliable diagnosis of this rare condition because conventional serological immunoassays likely would yield false-negative results.

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