Adult Nephrotic Syndrome after Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: Renal Pathology is the Best Predictor of Response to Therapy

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2016 Jun;22(6):975-981. doi: 10.1016/j.bbmt.2015.12.014. Epub 2015 Dec 29.


Nephrotic syndrome (NS) after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is a rare phenomenon usually associated with graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). This systematic review of post-HSCT NS cases reported in the literature aimed to identify risk factors and unique features of the disease in this clinical setting. One hundred sixteen cases of post-HSCT NS published in the English literature between 1988 and 2015 were revealed and analyzed. The median onset of NS was 20.5 months (range, 3 to 174) post-HSCT. NS development was associated with acute or chronic GVHD in 87.2% of cases. Membranous nephropathy (MGN) was the most frequent pathology (65.5%), followed by minimal change disease (MCD) (19%). Complete remission of the NS was achieved in 63.5% of patients (59.1% of MGN cases and 81.3% of MCD cases; P = .15). Patients presenting with MCD recovered at a median of 1.75 months (range, 1 to 12) and with MGN a median of 7 months (range, 1 to 53) (P = .001). NS was treated with corticosteroids alone in 16.8% of patients and with a combination of corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents in 73.5% of patients. Univariate analysis failed to identify a single predictive factor of response to therapy. In conclusion, post-HSCT NS usually develops concomitant to GVHD and is associated with high rates of response to therapy. Although most patients were treated with a combination of immunosuppressive drugs, single-agent therapy with steroids may be sufficient in some cases.

Keywords: Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Graft-versus-host disease; Nephrotic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Graft vs Host Disease / pathology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Young Adult


  • Immunosuppressive Agents