The aim was to evaluate the role of a-smooth muscle actin (SMA) and collagen type IV as markers of chronicity in renal biopsies of IgA nephropathy patients and to correlate the degree of their interstitial expression with renal function as judged by serum creatinine. Renal biopsies from 29 clinically, histologically and immunologically confirmed cases of IgA nephropathy were reviewed to assess activity and chronicity indices. Immunohistochemical stains for alpha-SMA and collagen type IV was performed on 23 patients with adequate tissue available in the block. The interstitial expression of alpha-SMA and collagen type IV was then correlated with chronicity and activity indices, serum creatinine and 24 hours urinary protein. Pearson's coefficient of correlation, unpaired-t test were used for statistical analysis. alpha-SMA and collagen type IV were shown to be expressed in the interstitium in all 22 cases showing interstitital fibrosis. Both showed a similar distribution pattern with predominant periglomerular and peritubular positivity. The cases were divided into two groups (low and high grade) depending on the percentage of interstitial area showing positivity for these two antibodies. On statistical analysis, the expression of both a-smooth muscle actin and collagen type IV showed a striking correlation with the histological chronicity index (P<0.01). A positive correlation was also noted with the serum creatinine at the time of diagnosis. It is seen that an immunohistochemical approach to grading interstitial fibrosis as in this study is far simpler than the histological grading systems prevalent and is an important baseline prognostic indicator.
Keywords: Collagen type IV; IgA nephropathy; myofibroblasts.