Rationale & Objective: Glomerular C4d (C4dG) as an indicator of the lectin pathway of complement activation in immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN) has been associated with more severe kidney damage. Recent studies have suggested that vascular lesions in IgAN biopsy specimens with complement deposition are also associated with disease progression. We aimed to study the clinical significance of arteriolar C4d (C4dA) in IgAN kidney biopsy tissue.
Study Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting & Participants: Kidney biopsy specimens from 126 adults with IgAN diagnosed by Oxford classification criteria were stained using immunohistochemistry and classified according to C4dG and C4dA deposition. Additionally, vascular lesions including acute and chronic microangiopathy, arteriolar hyalinosis, and arterial intima fibrosis were characterized.
Outcome: Progressive kidney disease, defined as a decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate by >= 50% or occurrence of kidney failure.
Analytical Approach: The association of C4dA and C4dG with baseline clinical and histologic characteristics, as well as progressive kidney disease, were assessed with survival analysis using multivariable Cox regression analysis.
Results: C4dA was identified in 21 (17%) patients and was associated with mean arterial pressure, arterial intima fibrosis, and chronic microangiopathy. C4dA was also significantly associated with C4dG and both were associated with progressive kidney disease. In regression analysis, C4dA remained significantly associated with progressive kidney disease after adjusting for other significant predictors, including baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate, mean arterial pressure, and the presence of crescents.
Limitations: Findings based on the retrospective evaluation of a single center's experience, limited number of events, a small number of patients with a broad range of kidney disease stages, and use of immunohistochemistry rather than immunofluorescence to detect C4d.
Conclusions: C4dA is a potential biomarker for disease progression in IgAN. It should be further investigated in larger cohorts to determine the value of C4dA in improving prediction of IgAN disease progression.