Measurement of SC5b-9 in urine in patients with the nephrotic syndrome

Kidney Int. 1991 Dec;40(6):1141-7. doi: 10.1038/ki.1991.326.


In passive or active Heymann nephritis (HN) in the rat, the immune complexes that form in the glomerular subepithelial space result in complement activation and the urinary (U) excretion of S protein-membrane attack complex (SC5b-9, MAC). Because of the similarities between HN in rats and membranous nephropathy (MN) in humans, it has been suggested that measurement of SC5b-9 in urine (UMAC) could be useful in assessing the immunologic activity of MN in patients. The present study was undertaken in normal individuals and in patients with nephrotic syndrome to determine: 1) the conditions of urine collection and preservation needed for accurate measurement of UMAC for clinical purposes; and 2) whether UMAC levels are a sensitive and/or specific test for MN. In studies conducted on urine specimens from patients with increased UMAC levels, we found that UMAC in freshly voided urine was stable for at least three hours at 37 degrees C, with or without the addition of the enzyme inhibitors that were used to stabilize UMAC levels in the studies of HN in the rat. Urine pH, leukocytes and erythrocytes, over the ranges usually encountered, did not influence UMAC levels. However, freezing urine at -70 degrees C artifactually raised UMAC levels (1500 +/- 550 to 1800 +/- 580 SE ng/ml, P less than 0.001 by paired t-test). Normal urine contained low UMAC levels: 80 +/- 3 ng/mg urinary creatinine (UCr). By contrast, patients with glomerulopathies tended to have elevated UMAC levels: 18 of 38 patients had levels that ranged from 200 to 20,000 ng/mg UCr.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / metabolism
  • Biopsy
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / urine*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Female
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / immunology
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / immunology*
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / urine
  • Proteinuria / immunology
  • Proteinuria / urine
  • Urine / chemistry
  • Urine / cytology


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Enzyme Inhibitors