Renal pathology in idiopathic membranous nephropathy: a new perspective

Kidney Int. 2006 May;69(9):1641-8. doi: 10.1038/


Histology findings in idiopathic membranous nephropathy (MGN) have been associated with the risk of renal failure, but whether they are independent of the clinical variables at the time of biopsy, predict rate of progression, or should guide therapy is uncertain. Renal biopsies of 389 adult MGN patients were evaluated semiquantitatively for interstitial fibrosis, tubular atrophy, vascular sclerosis, focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis lesions (FSGS), complement deposition, and stage and synchrony of deposits by electron microscopy (EM). Associations were tested between these findings and the rate of renal function decline (slope), renal survival, remission in proteinuria, and response to immunosuppression. Patients with a greater degree of tubulo-interstitial disease, vascular sclerosis, and secondary FSGS were older, had a higher mean arterial pressure, and a lower creatinine clearance at presentation. Although these histologic features were associated with a reduced renal survival, they did not predict this outcome independently of the baseline clinical variables nor did they correlate with the rate of decline in function or with baseline proteinuria. Furthermore, the severity of tubulo-interstitial and vascular lesions did not preclude a remission in proteinuria in those who received immunosuppressive therapy. Neither stage nor synchronicity of EM deposits nor the amount of complement deposition predicted renal survival but the latter did correlate with progression rate. In MGN, certain histologic changes are associated with renal survival outcome. However, the indicators of chronic injury are associated with age, blood pressure, and creatinine clearance at presentation and not with rate of disease progression or initial proteinuria.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Blood Pressure
  • Complement C3 / analysis
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / complications
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / pathology*
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / therapy
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Kidney / ultrastructure*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Proteinuria / diagnosis
  • Sex Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Complement C3
  • Creatinine