Immunopathological findings in idiopathic nephrosis: clinical significance of glomerular "immune deposits"

Pediatr Nephrol. 1988 Oct;2(4):402-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00853431.


Idiopathic nephrosis (IN), which includes minimal change (MCD), diffuse mesangial proliferation (DMP) and focal segmental glomerular sclerosis (FSGS), is classically characterized by the absence of significant deposits by immunofluorescence microscopy (IF), except for the focal lesions of segmental sclerosis and/or hyalinosis of FSGS, which fix IgM and C3 antiserums. Since IF is available in most centres, an increasing number of unexpected findings has been reported. In order to evaluate the clinical significance of the glomerular deposits revealed by IF in some instances, we reviewed the renal biopsy findings of 222 consecutive children presenting with IN and in whom IF microscopy was available. By light microscopy, 122 patients showed MCD, 10 DMP, and 90 FSGS with DMP (11 cases) or without (79 cases). By IF, 125 specimens were negative and served as controls; 54 showed mesangial IgM deposits, 24 mesangial IgG deposits (associated with Clq deposits in 16), 15 scattered granules of C3 and 4 predominant deposits of mesangial IgA. We correlated these findings with initial response to steroid therapy and outcome and could find no significant difference between the various categories defined by IF and the control group. Repeat biopsies, performed in 21 cases, showed the persistence of deposits in 11 and their transformation in 10. The particular problem raised by the patients who present with IN and mesangial IgA deposits is discussed. Our results demonstrate that patients presenting with IN and "positive IF", whether showing IgM, IgG and Clq, C3 or IgA, do not represent distinct clinicopathological entities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complement System Proteins / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / immunology
  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nephrosis / drug therapy
  • Nephrosis / immunology*
  • Nephrosis / pathology
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / immunology
  • Nephrosis, Lipoid / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Steroids / therapeutic use


  • Immunoglobulins
  • Steroids
  • Complement System Proteins