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.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ERA-EDTA. All rights reserved.