Advances in membranous nephropathy: success stories of a long journey

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2011 Jul;38(7):460-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05506.x.


1. embranous nephropathy is characterized by an accumulation of immune deposits on the outer aspect of the glomerular basement membrane. 2. In the rat model described by Heymann in 1959, the target antigen of antibodies is megalin, a multiligand receptor expressed in the rat glomerulus but absent from the human glomerulus. 3. In recent years, two major antigens have been identified in human membranous nephropathy (MN). The first is neutral endopeptidase (NEP), the alloantigen involved in neonatal cases of MN that occur in newborns from NEP-deficient mothers. The second is the M-type phospholipase A(2) receptor (PLA(2) R), the first autoantigen identified in idiopathic MN in the adult. Megalin, NEP and PLA(2) R are all expressed on the podocyte surface, where they can serve as targets for circulating antibodies, leading to in situ immune complex formation, complement activation and proteinuria. 4. In addition to podocyte antigens, we recently showed that some patients with childhood MN had both circulating cationic bovine serum albumin (BSA) and anti-BSA antibodies, with BSA being present in immune deposits. This suggests that food antigens may be involved in MN through charge-dependent binding to the anionic glomerular capillary wall and in situ formation of immune complexes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / immunology
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Glomerular Basement Membrane / immunology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Podocytes / immunology


  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Antigens