Prediction of membranous nephropathy recurrence after transplantation by monitoring of anti-PLA2R1 (M-type phospholipase A2 receptor) autoantibodies: a case series of 15 patients

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2014 Dec;29(12):2334-42. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfu252. Epub 2014 Jul 25.


Background: The predictive value of anti-M-type phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R1) autoantibodies for membranous nephropathy (MN) recurrence after renal transplantation remains controversial.

Methods: Our aim was to monitor anti-PLA2R1 IgG4 activity using a sensitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 15 kidney transplant recipients with MN, and to test the correlation between antibody titres and MN recurrence.

Results: Five patients never exhibited anti-PLA2R1 antibodies, and one of them relapsed. Ten patients (67%) had IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 antibodies at the time of transplantation and during follow-up. The presence of IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 antibodies at the time of kidney transplantation does not imply MN recurrence (P = 0.600, n = 15). However, a positive IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 activity during follow-up (>Month 6) was a significant risk factor for MN relapse (P = 0.0048, n = 10). Indeed, four patients had persistent IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 activity after transplantation and relapsed. Among them, one was successfully treated with rituximab. Another had persistently high IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 activity and exhibited a histological relapse but no proteinuria while on treatment with renin-angiotensin system inhibitors. In contrast, the six other patients who did not relapse exhibited a decrease of their IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 activity following transplant immunosuppression, including two with proteinuria due to biopsy-proven differential diagnoses. A weak transplant immunosuppressive regimen was also a risk factor of MN recurrence (P = 0.0048, n = 10). Indeed, the six patients who received both an induction therapy and a combined treatment with calcineurin inhibitors/mycophenolate exhibited a decrease of IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 activity and did not relapse, while the four patients who did not receive this strong immunosuppressive treatment association had persistently high IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 activity and relapsed.

Conclusion: The monitoring of IgG4 anti-PLA2R1 titres during follow-up helps to predict MN recurrence, and a strong immunosuppressive treatment of anti-PLA2R1 positive patients may prevent recurrence.

Keywords: PLA2R1 autoantibodies; membranous nephropathy; prognosis; recurrence; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / metabolism*
  • Biopsy
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / diagnosis
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / immunology*
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Phospholipase A2 / immunology*
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Autoantibodies
  • Receptors, Phospholipase A2