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Familial glomerulonephritis characterized by massive deposits of fibronectin

American Journal of Kidney Diseases
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0272-6386(95)90555-3
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract In recent years more than 150 cases of glomerulonephritis characterized by deposits of irregularly arranged fibrils have been documented. In the majority of these cases immunoglobulins and complement are the prime constituents of these deposits. We recently made a diagnosis of fibrillary glomerulonephritis without immunoglobulin deposition in two members of a family, a father and a son. In the father, proteinuria was first discovered 18 years ago. In 1985 he was referred to our outpatient clinic because of hypertension and increasing proteinuria. From that time onward he was regularly seen for blood pressure control. Nephrotic-range proteinuria persisted, without hardly any evidence of deterioration of renal function. Renal biopsies were performed in 1985 and 1993. His son underwent a renal biopsy in 1993 because of moderate proteinuria. The biopsies of both patients disclosed a distinct form of fibrillary glomerulonephritis that was characterized by massive deposits of a homogeneous, eosinophilic material in the mesangial and subendothelial areas. Staining for amyloid was negative. Immunofluorescence revealed that the biopsy specimens only stained faintly for immunoglobulins, complement factors C1q and C3, the extracellular matrix proteins, collagen IV, and laminin. However, they strongly stained for fibronectin. Using monoclonal antibodies specific for cell-derived fibronectin (IST-9) and plasma- and cell-derived fibronectin (IST-4), in the biopsy of the son we demonstrated that the fibronectin deposited in the glomeruli was mainly derived from the plasma, and to a lesser extent from resident glomerular cells. In addition, a moderate staining for amyloid P and vitronectin also was present. No or minor enhanced staining for collagen I, III, or V, heparan sulfate proteoglycan or its glycosaminoglycan side chains, tenascin, or thrombospondin could be observed. By electron microscopy the deposits in the mesangium and the subendothelial spaces appeared focally to be composed of irregularly arranged fibrils or microtubules 10 to 12 nm in diameter. Fibrillary glomerulonephritis with massive deposits of fibronectin represents a rare form of familial glomerulonephritis. In our patients the glomerulonephritis has an indolent course with hardly any deterioration of renal function.

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