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Mod Pathol. 1988 Mar;1(2):87-97.

HIV-associated nephropathy. A unique combined glomerular, tubular, and interstitial lesion.

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Department of Pathology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance.


Although a variety of renal lesions may occur in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a rare but aggressive form of focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis with capillary collapse has been considered a possible component of this disorder. It is manifested by heavy proteinuria and progression to renal failure in a short time. We studied renal biopsies from nine patients with HIV infection and the above clinical features and compared the renal tissues to biopsies from HIV-positive individuals with immune complex glomerulonephritis and to biopsies from patients with heroin abuse nephropathy. The HIV-associated nephropathy was characterized by a combination of lesions: focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis, often in an early stage of evolution and with prominent degenerative changes of visceral epithelium; tubular necrosis without identifiable nephrotoxic or hemodynamic etiology; interstitial edema; large plasma protein-containing tubular casts in all segments of the nephron associated with marked tubular dilatation; and widespread tubuloreticular structures in vascular endothelium. In contrast, neither the sclerosing glomerular changes nor the tubulointerstitial abnormalities were present in HIV-infected patients with immune complex glomerulonephritis. Similarly, the tubular and interstitial changes and widespread tubuloreticular structures were absent in heroin-abuse nephropathy. The lesions of HIV-associated nephropathy occurred in patients with AIDS, AIDS-related complex, and in individuals clinically asymptomatic for HIV infection. Their morphological features in asymptomatic patients are sufficiently specific to allow for accurate diagnosis of HIV infection.

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