Background: Several families have been described in which an A to G transition mutation at position 3243 (A3243G) of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is associated with focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). However, the prevalence, clinical features, and pathophysiology of FSGS carrying mtDNA mutations are largely undefined.
Methods: Among 11 biopsy-proven primary FSGS patients of unknown etiology, we examined seven FSGS patients to determine whether any of the clinical and pathological features of FSGS were associated with an A3243G mtDNA mutation. In four subjects in whom the A3243G mtDNA mutation was discovered in blood leukocytes, as well as in urine sediments, we retrospectively reviewed the medical records and re-evaluated the renal biopsy specimen using light and electron microscopy. We further screened the patient's family members for the presence and degree of heteroplasmy for this mtDNA mutation and obtained medical histories that were consistent with mitochondrial cytopathy.
Results: The four individuals identified with the A3243G mtDNA mutation were female. Proteinuria was diagnosed in these individuals during a routine annual health checkup in their teenage years. None of the patients showed any symptoms related to mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episode, whereas diabetes mellitus in two of the patients and a hearing disturbance in one patient became manifest within a 3- to 13-year follow-up period. Strict maternal transmitted inheritance was confirmed by pedigree studies in all of these patients. Steroid therapy was ineffective in all four patients. In two of these patients, renal function declined slowly to end-stage renal failure. Histologic examination of biopsy specimens revealed that glomeruli were not hypertrophied, while electron microscopic examination identified severely damaged, multinucleated podocytes containing extremely dysmorphic abnormal mitochondria in all patients.
Conclusions: FSGS may belong to the spectrum of renal involvement in A3243G mtDNA mutation in humans. Severely injured podocytic changes containing abnormal mitochondria may explain the pathogenesis of FSGS in association with the A3243G mtDNA mutation.