Background: Whereas the complex removal routes hypothesized for IgA containing immune complexes (IC) and macromolecules can be adequately analyzed by a recently proposed IgA1-IgG aggregate probe (Lab Invest, 66: 86-95), the relative significance of the asialoglycoprotein receptors in IgAIC clearance is still uncertain.
Experimental design: The removal kinetics of 99mTc diethylenetriamine-pentaacetic acid-conjugated asialo alpha 1 acid glycoprotein (AAGP) and 123I-labeled IgA1-IgG aggregate were analyzed in 11 cirrhosis patients and 13 IgAN patients of comparable age.
Results: IgA1-IgG aggregate mean plasma clearance rate was delayed in IgA neuropathy (IgAN) patients (slope 0.038 minutes-1, range 0.027 to 0.053) compared with normals (0.047 minutes-1, range 0.038 to 0.053, p = 0.05). The liver was the main organ involved in the IgA1-IgG removal. When compared with normals, (34.3 minutes, range 29.8 to 42.2), the liver mean transit time (MTT) was significantly (p < 0.02) prolonged in IgAN patients (41.3 minutes, 33.6 to 52.3). Participation of spleen in clearance was observed in some patients and was almost invariably concurrent with normal clearance parameters. Conversely, 9 out of 11 cirrhosis patients had a remarkable splenic uptake, but the blood clearance rate was invariably delayed (0.022 minutes-1, 0.014 to 0.028, p < 0.003) and liver MTT extremely prolonged (122.4 minutes, 52.4 to 400, p < 0.003). In IgAN patients with delayed clearance of the IgA1-IgG aggregate, a distinct trend of progression towards renal failure was noted. AAGP clearance was also delayed in cirrhosis patients: slope = 0.166 minutes-1, 0.108 to 0.247, p = 0.05 as compared with both normals (0.230, 0.173 to 0.289) and IgAN patients (0.250, 0.184 to 0.254). Liver MTT in cirrhosis patients was extremely prolonged: 240.6 minutes, 132.5 to 400 minutes, p < 0.007 compared with both normals (90.0 minutes, 82.7 to 96.6) and IgA patients (92.2 minutes, 70.3 to 107.1). AAGP clearance parameters in normals and IgAN patients were not statistically different. MTT values of AAGP and IgA1-IgG aggregate were strictly related (p = 0.008), suggesting that asialoglycoprotein receptors are partially involved in the clearance of the IgA1-IgG aggregate probe.
Conclusions: Some patients with IgAN have a prolonged circulation of an IgAIC miming probe, probably due to an impaired macrophage function. Other possibilities of prolonged circulation of IgAIC in these patients should imply an abnormal IgA glycosylation pattern that allows IC to escape from an effective asialoglycoprotein receptor system. In cirrhosis patients, all of the removal routes of IgA and IgA containing IC are greatly altered suggesting a causative role in the development of an associated, often clinically inapparent, glomerular disease.