Background: sensitivity to food antigens has been postulated as a contributing factor to the pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy (IgAN).
Methods: in this study we used a recently developed mucosal patch technique to evaluate rectal mucosal sensitivity to soy and cow's milk (CM) proteins in IgAN patients (n = 28) compared to healthy subjects (n = 18). The rectal mucosal production of nitric oxide (NO) and release of myeloperoxidase (MPO) and eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) were measured. Serum samples were analyzed for IgA and IgG antibodies to alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, casein and soy.
Results: 14 of 28 (14/28) patients experienced a rectal mucosal reaction, measured by increased NO and/or MPO levels, upon rectal challenge with soy and/or cow's milk proteins. The levels of IgG antibodies to alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin and casein were significantly higher in CM sensitive as compared with non-sensitive IgAN patients, whereas the mean serum levels of IgA antibodies were similar. No differences were seen in serum levels of IgA or IgG antibodies to soy.
Conclusion: it is concluded that approximately half of our IgAN patients have a rectal mucosal sensitivity to soy or CM, and that an immune reactivity against antigens may be involved in the pathogenesis of IgAN in this subgroup of patients.