About 70% of patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy (iMN) have autoantibodies to the phospholipase A2 receptor PLA2R1. We screened sera from iMN patients for their cross-reactivity to human (h), rabbit (rb) and mouse (m) PLA2R1 by western blot (WB) and antigen-specific ELISAs. All iMN patients recognized hPLA2R1 and rbPLA2R1 by WB, and a rbPLA2R1 ELISA was as sensitive as the standardized hPLA2R1 ELISA to monitor anti-PLA2R1 in patients with active disease or in drug-induced remission. In contrast, only 51% of patients were reactive to mPLA2R1 by WB, and a maximum of 78% were weakly to highly positive in the mPLA2R1 ELISA, suggesting that iMN patients exhibit different subsets of anti-PLA2R1 autoantibodies against epitopes that are shared or not among PLA2R1 orthologs. In a cohort of 41 patients with a mean follow-up of 42 months from anti-PLA2R1 assay, the detection of anti-mPLA2R1 autoantibodies was an independent predictor of clinical outcome in multivariate analysis (p = 0.009), and a ROC curve analysis identified a threshold of 605 RU/mL above which 100% of patients (12 patients) had a poor renal outcome (p < 0.001). A similar threshold could not be defined in hPLA2R1 and rbPLA2R1 ELISAs. We conclude that rbPLA2R1 is an alternative antigen to hPLA2R1 to measure anti-PLA2R1 in active disease while mPLA2R1 is a unique antigen that can detect a subset of anti-PLA2R1 autoantibodies present at high levels (>605 RU/mL) only in iMN patients at risk of poor prognosis, and is thus useful to predict iMN outcome.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01897961.
Keywords: Autoimmunity; Conformational epitope; ELISA; Membranous nephropathy; Mouse PLA2R1; Orthologs; PLA2R1 autoantibodies; Rabbit PLA2R1.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. and Société Française de Biochimie et Biologie Moléculaire (SFBBM). All rights reserved.