Background/aims: Nephropathy associated with alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency is assumed to be an unusual entity. We describe the case of a 23-year-old woman with severe alpha1-antitrypsin (PiZ homozygosity) deficiency who developed hepatic cirrhosis in childhood, and glomerulonephritis and nephrotic syndrome in adult life.
Methods/results: A renal biopsy was consistent with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis. An immunofluorescence study revealed the presence of alpha1-antitrypsin (PiZ) in the subendothelial region of the glomerular basement membrane. The renal disease was reversible after orthotopic liver transplantation.
Conclusions: The presence of abnormal PiZ protein in the subendothelial region of the glomerular basement membrane may suggest a possible role for this protein in the pathogenesis of glomerulonephritis. The case should add impetus to the search for alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency in any patient presenting with combined liver and renal disease, in the absence of evidence of hepato-renal syndrome, and illustrates that liver transplantation alone may reverse the nephropathy associated with alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency.