Background: Chronic renal disease is a serious complication of long-term intravenous drug use (IVDU). Recent reports have postulated a changing pattern of underlying nephropathy over the last decades.
Methods: Retrospective investigation including all patients with prior or present IVDU that underwent renal biopsy because of chronic kidney disease between 01.04.2002 and 31.03.2012 in the city of Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
Results: Twenty four patients with IVDU underwent renal biopsy because of progressive chronic kidney disease or proteinuria. Renal AA-amyloidosis was the predominant cause of renal failure in 50% of patients. Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (GN) was the second most common cause found in 21%. Patients with AA-amyloidosis were more likely to be HIV infected (67 vs.17%; p=0.036) and tended to have a higher rate of repeated systemic infections (92 vs. 50%; p=0.069). Patients with AA-amyloidosis presented with progressive renal disease and nephrotic-range proteinuria but most patients had no peripheral edema or systemic hypertension. Development of proteinuria preceded the decline of GFR for approximately 1-2 years.
Conclusions: AA-amyloidosis was the predominant cause of progressive renal disease in the last 10 years in patients with IVDU. The highest rate of AA-amyloidosis observed was seen in HIV infected patients with IVDU. We speculate that chronic HIV-infection as well as the associated immunosuppression might promote development of AA-amyloidosis by increasing frequency and duration of infections acquired by IVDU.