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Kidney Int. 2012 Aug;82(4):454-64. doi: 10.1038/ki.2012.63. Epub 2012 Mar 28.

Acquired and genetic complement abnormalities play a critical role in dense deposit disease and other C3 glomerulopathies.

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Department of Nephrology, Hôpital Necker-Enfants Malades AP-HP, Paris, France.


Dense deposit disease and glomerulonephritis with isolated C3 deposits are glomerulopathies characterized by deposits of C3 within or along the glomerular basement membrane. Previous studies found a link between dysregulation of the complement alternative pathway and the pathogenesis of these diseases. We analyzed the role of acquired and genetic complement abnormalities in a cohort of 134 patients, of whom 29 have dense deposit disease, 56 have glomerulonephritis with isolated C3 deposits, and 49 have primary membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type I, with adult and pediatric onset. A total of 53 patients presented with a low C3 level, and 65 were positive for C3 nephritic factor that was significantly more frequently detected in patients with dense deposit disease than in other histological types. Mutations in CFH and CFI genes were identified in 24 patients associated with a C3 nephritic factor in half the cases. We found evidence for complement alternative pathway dysregulation in 26 patients with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type I. The complement factor H Y402H variant was significantly increased in dense deposit disease. We identified one at-risk membrane cofactor protein (MCP) haplotype for glomerulonephritis with isolated C3 deposits and membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis type I. Thus, our results suggest a critical role of fluid-phase alternative pathway dysregulation in the pathogenesis of C3 glomerulopathies as well as in immune complex-mediated glomerular diseases. The localization of the C3 deposits may be under the influence of MCP expression.

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