Background: The clinical relevance of distinguishing two types of glomerulonephritis (GN) with non-amyloid organized immunoglobulin (Ig) deposits-fibrillary GN (FGN) and immunotactoid (microtubular) GN (IT/MTGN)-on the basis of ultrastructural organization, is debated.
Methods: Twenty-three patients with organized glomerular Ig deposits were classified into two groups based on the fibrillar or microtubular ultrastructural appearance of the deposits. Kidney biopsy samples were studied by immunofluorescence microscopy, using anti-light chain conjugates (all cases) and anti-IgG subclass conjugates (13 patients). In each group, we studied clinicopathological features, associated monoclonal gammapathy (detected by immunoelectrophoresis and/or immunoblot) or B-cell lymphoproliferative disease, effects of chemotherapy and long-term renal outcome.
Results: In 14 IT/MTGN and 9 FGN patients, clinical symptoms [hypertension, nephrotic syndrome (NS) and hematuria] and the mean diameters of the substructures were similar. In 13 IT/MTGN patients, glomerular (IgG1, 2 or 3) deposits were monotypic (kappa, 7 cases; lambda, 6 cases). Glomerular deposits were associated with a monoclonal Ig of the same isotype in eight patients, detected in the serum (5 cases), and/or in the cytoplasm of lymphocytes (4 cases), and with lymphoproliferative disease in seven patients. The ultrastructural features of monoclonal Ig inclusions in lymphocytes were similar to those of glomerular microtubular deposits. In contrast, none of the FGN patients presented lymphoplasmocytic proliferation or paraproteinemia. Glomerular Ig deposits were polyclonal in eight cases and contained IgG4 in all three cases studied. Although patient and renal survival did not differ significantly between the two groups, chemotherapy led to remission of NS in ten IT/MTGN patients, with parallel improvement in hematological parameters.
Conclusions: The identification of ultrastructural patterns in these nephropathies is important. GN with organized microtubular monoclonal deposits (GOMMID) probably accounts for a large proportion of immunotactoid (microtubular) GN cases.