Nephrotic syndrome in the elderly: epidemiological aspects, clinical data, and renal biopsy findings

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2022 Feb 28:55:e11861. doi: 10.1590/1414-431X2022e11861. eCollection 2022.


Nephrotic syndrome is the most common clinical presentation of glomerular disease in elderly patients, and renal biopsy is an important diagnostic resource. The aim of this study was to describe nephrotic syndrome among elderly patients in Brazil, focusing on tubulointerstitial and vascular involvement. This was a retrospective study of patients over 65 years of age with nephrotic syndrome who underwent renal biopsy between January 2012 and December 2019. Of the 123 renal biopsies that occurred during the study period, 44 (35.8%) were performed for the investigation of nephrotic syndrome. Among those 44 cases, the main etiologies were membranous nephropathy in 13 cases (29.5%), amyloidosis in ten (22.7%), non-collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) in four (9.1%), and collapsing FSGS in four (9.1%). Patients with minimal change disease (MCD) had the lowest degree of interstitial fibrosis compared with the other glomerulopathies, and histological signs of acute tubular necrosis (ATN) were less common among those with amyloidosis than among those with membranous nephropathy, FSGS, or MCD (P=0.0077). Of the patients with ATN, the frequency of acute kidney injury (AKI) was highest in those with MCD (P<0.001). All patients had some degree of vascular involvement, regardless of the type of glomerulopathy. In conclusion, the second most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in this population was amyloidosis, and acute interstitial tubule involvement was more marked in MCD. Vascular involvement is something that cannot be dissociated from the age of the patient and is not only due to the underlying glomerulopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury*
  • Aged
  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / etiology
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies