Background: The nonspecific lesion of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) can occur as a primary disease or in a variety of secondary settings. In mitochondrial cytopathies (MCs), the phenotypic expression of the disease depends on the degree of cellular dysfunction, and this correlates with the proportion of abnormal mitochondrial DNA in the cells and the dependence of tissues on oxidative metabolism. The most common renal manifestation in MCs is tubular dysfunction; little has been reported about glomerular diseases.
Methods: Cases of four adult patients with FSGS and MC are reported. Routine histology and mitochondrial DNA analysis were carried out on renal biopsies.
Results: Family history and clinical manifestations in the four patients with FSGS suggested a diagnosis of MC. An A3243G transition in the mitochondrial DNA tRNA(leu(UUR)) was found in lymphocytes and kidney. Glomerular lesions of FSGS were associated with unusual hyaline lesions, which appeared to represent individual myocyte necrosis in afferent arterioles and small arteries.
Conclusion: FSGS is a renal manifestation of MCs. The renal lesion can precede other manifestations of the genetic disease by many years. The striking arteriolar lesions in these cases may have resulted in glomerular hypertension and hyperperfusion, leading to secondary epithelial cell abnormalities and, ultimately, FSGS. However, primary epithelial cell dysfunction caused by mitochondrial defects could not be ruled out on morphological grounds. MCs should be considered in cases of so-called primary FSGS, particularly if there is a familial history of diabetes, neuromuscular disorders, or deafness.