Immune complex renal disease and human immunodeficiency virus infection

Semin Nephrol. 2008 Nov;28(6):535-44. doi: 10.1016/j.semnephrol.2008.08.006.


Immune complex glomerulonephritis is a common diagnosis in renal biopsy series of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. There are a variety of glomerulonephritides associated with HIV infection, including IgA nephropathy, membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, membranous nephropathy, lupus-like glomerulonephritis, immunotactoid glomerulopathy, and fibrillary glomerulonephritis. In addition, HIV-related proteins may be implicated in circulating immune complexes directly related to a response to the infection. In some cases, the relationship of the HIV infection to the glomerulonephritis is unclear. HIV infection is associated with the development of polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia, which can promote the development of circulating immune complexes. It is not clear if HIV-associated glomerulonephritis is caused by the passive trapping of these circulating immune complexes or the in situ deposition of antibodies binding to HIV viral antigens. Some renal lesions that are seen in the setting of HIV infection more likely may be related to the presence of a co-infection such as hepatitis C virus infection. The optimal therapy for immune complex glomerulonephritis in the setting of HIV infection is unknown. Because of the underlying immunosuppressed state of many HIV-infected patients, caution with traditional cytotoxic therapies is advised. The role of antiretroviral therapy in modifying the course of these renal lesions is unclear.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / immunology*
  • Biopsy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Glomerulonephritis / etiology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / immunology
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Immune Complex Diseases / etiology*
  • Immune Complex Diseases / immunology
  • Immune Complex Diseases / pathology
  • Kidney / immunology
  • Kidney / pathology*


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex