Elevated urinary excretion of the C5b-9 complex in membranous nephropathy

Kidney Int. 1991 Sep;40(3):533-8. doi: 10.1038/ki.1991.242.


In experimental membranous nephropathy, antibody binding to glomerular epithelial cell membrane antigens results in complement activation and formation of complement C5b-9 membrane attack complexes in glomeruli. During active disease, the C5b-9 complexes are shed into the urine. To test the hypothesis that a similar mechanism might be operative in human membranous nephropathy, we measured urinary excretion of C5b-9 and C5 in 146 proteinuric patients with biopsy-proven glomerular diseases or diabetes mellitus. Urinary excretion of C5b-9 relative to C5 excretion was higher in 40 patients with membranous nephropathy than in 106 patients with proteinuria due to non-membranous glomerulonephritis when analyzed by covariance analysis (P less than 0.0002). Urinary C5b-9 excretion was higher in membranous nephropathy than in membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (N = 13, P less than 0.05), minimal change-focal sclerosis (N = 33, P less than 0.001), mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis (N = 9, P less than 0.02) and IgA nephropathy (N = 7, P less than 0.025). Urinary C5b-9 excretion was also higher in patients with lupus nephritis (N = 18, P less than 0.02) compared to those with non-membranous glomerulonephritis. The lupus patients with the highest excretion had clinical or pathological features of membranous nephropathy. Nine patients with membranous nephropathy and elevated urinary C5b-9 excretion had a shorter duration of disease (P less than 0.05), lower serum creatinine levels (P less than 0.05) and more proteinuria (P less than 0.02) than the 31 membranous nephropathy patients with normal values.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex / urine*
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / etiology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / immunology*
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / urine
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteinuria / urine


  • Complement Membrane Attack Complex
  • Creatinine