Temporal and Demographic Trends in Glomerular Disease Epidemiology in the Southeastern United States, 1986-2015

Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Apr 3;12(4):614-623. doi: 10.2215/CJN.10871016. Epub 2017 Mar 21.


Background and objectives: Large-scale, contemporary studies exploring glomerular disease epidemiology in the United States are lacking. We aimed to determine 30-year temporal and demographic trends in renal biopsy glomerular disease diagnosis frequencies in the southeastern United States.

Design, setting, participants, & measurements: In this cross-sectional, observational study, we identified all patients with a native kidney biopsy specimen showing one of 18 widely recognized glomerular disease diagnoses referred to the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Division of Nephropathology between 1986 and 2015. Biopsy era (1986-1995, 1996-2005, and 2006-2015) and demographics (age, sex, and race) were our primary and secondary predictors, respectively, and the relative frequency of each glomerular disease diagnosis was our primary outcome.

Results: Among 21,374 patients (mean age =48.3±18.3 years old; 50.8% men; 56.8% white; 38.3% black; 2.8% Latino; 1.4% Asian; 0.8% other), the frequency of diabetic glomerulosclerosis in renal biopsy specimens increased dramatically over the three decades (5.5%, 11.4%, and 19.1% of diagnoses, respectively; P for trend <0.001). The frequency of FSGS initially increased but then declined (22.6%, 27.2%, and 24.7%, respectively; P for trend =0.64). The frequencies of other common glomerular disease subtypes remained stable (IgA nephropathy and ANCA/pauci-immune GN) or declined (minimal change disease, membranous nephropathy, membranoproliferative GN, and lupus nephritis). These temporal trends were largely preserved within all demographic subgroups, although cross-sectional frequency distributions differed according to age, sex, and race.

Conclusions: We identified significant changes in relative renal biopsy frequencies of many glomerular disease subtypes over three decades. Temporal trends were consistently observed within all major demographic groups, although relative predominance of individual glomerular disease subtypes differed according to patient age, sex, and race. We propose that exploration of behavioral and environmental exposures that likely underlie these findings should be the focus of future hypothesis-driven research.

Keywords: Adult; African Americans; Aged; Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic; Biopsy; Cross-Sectional Studies; Demography; Diabetic Nephropathies; Environmental Exposure; European Continental Ancestry Group; Hispanic Americans; Humans; Kidney Glomerulus; Male; MeSH Browser: Southeastern United States Southeastern United States; Middle Aged; Nephrosis, Lipoid; clinical epidemiology; glomerular disease; glomerulonephritis; histopathology; lupus nephritis; renal biopsy.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / epidemiology*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / pathology
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis / epidemiology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology*
  • Glomerulonephritis, IGA / epidemiology
  • Glomerulonephritis, IGA / pathology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / epidemiology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranoproliferative / pathology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / epidemiology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / pathology
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / epidemiology
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Kidney Glomerulus / pathology*
  • Lupus Nephritis / epidemiology
  • Lupus Nephritis / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / epidemiology*
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / pathology
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult