Background: The association of thrombotic events and/or pregnancy complications with circulating antiphospholipid antibodies defines antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). In previous reports, renal involvement in APS consisted mainly of thrombotic vascular complications involving large vessels or intrarenal small-sized vessels (APS nephropathy). We report 9 cases of glomerulonephritis associated with APS. These cases are characterized by predominant pathological features distinct from vascular APS nephropathy.
Methods: We reviewed consecutive renal biopsies examined in 2 French university hospitals between 1980 and 2002 and identified renal biopsies performed in patients with primary APS.
Results: We identified 29 biopsies performed in patients with APS. Twenty biopsies showed characteristic features of APS nephropathy. In 9 cases, predominant pathological features distinct from vascular APS nephropathy were noted: membranous nephropathy (3 cases), minimal change disease/focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (3 cases), mesangial C3 nephropathy (2 cases), and pauci-immune crescentic glomerulonephritis (1 case). In 7 cases, the presentation of renal symptoms was subacute or chronic. Two patients experienced episodes of acute renal failure. At referral, median creatinine clearance was 50 mL/min (0.83 mL/s) (range, 18 to 117 mL/min [0.30 to 1.95 mL/s]). Proteinuria was noted in all cases (range, 1.5 to 15 g/d), with nephrotic syndrome in 4 cases. Lupus anticoagulant was present in all cases, and anticardiolipin antibodies, in 8 cases. Anti-DNA antibodies repeatedly were negative in all cases. Treatment consisted of antihypertensive therapy (6 cases), anticoagulant drugs (5 cases), steroids (4 cases), and antiplatelet drugs (3 cases). At last follow-up, renal function remained stable in 7 patients. Of 2 patients presenting with acute renal failure, 1 patient recovered normal renal function, whereas the other patient progressed to end-stage renal failure.
Conclusion: The cases reported here represent a new aspect of the expanding spectrum of renal diseases encountered in association with APS.