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PLoS One. 2014 Oct 14;9(10):e110681. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110681. eCollection 2014.

PLA2R antibody levels and clinical outcome in patients with membranous nephropathy and non-nephrotic range proteinuria under treatment with inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system.

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III. Medizinische Klinik, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.
Institut für Medizinische Biometrie & Epidemiologie, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany.


Patients with primary membranous nephropathy (MN) who experience spontaneous remission of proteinuria generally have an excellent outcome without need of immunosuppressive therapy. It is, however, unclear whether non-nephrotic proteinuria at the time of diagnosis is also associated with good prognosis since a reasonable number of these patients develop nephrotic syndrome despite blockade of the renin-angiotensin system. No clinical or laboratory parameters are available, which allow the assessment of risk for development of nephrotic proteinuria. Phospholipase A2 Receptor antibodies (PLA2R-Ab) play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of primary MN and are associated with persistence of nephrotic proteinuria. In this study we analysed whether PLA2R-Ab levels might predict development of nephrotic syndrome and the clinical outcome in 33 patients with biopsy-proven primary MN and non-nephrotic proteinuria under treatment with blockers of the renin-angiotensin system. PLA2R-Ab levels, proteinuria and serum creatinine were measured every three months. Nephrotic-range proteinuria developed in 18 (55%) patients. At study start (1.2±1.5 months after renal biopsy and time of diagnosis), 16 (48%) patients were positive for PLA2R-Ab. A multivariate analysis showed that PLA2R-Ab levels were associated with an increased risk for development of nephrotic proteinuria (HR = 3.66; 95%CI: 1.39-9.64; p = 0.009). Immunosuppressive therapy was initiated more frequently in PLA2R-Ab positive patients (13 of 16 patients, 81%) compared to PLA2R-Ab negative patients (2 of 17 patients, 12%). PLA2R-Ab levels are associated with higher risk for development of nephrotic-range proteinuria in this cohort of non-nephrotic patients at the time of diagnosis and should be closely monitored in the clinical management.

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