Nephrol Dial Transplant (1996) 11: 791-793
Original Article Transplantation
Clinical features in two patients with IgA glomerulonephritis and thin-
M. Lanteri1, D. Wilson2 and J. Savige1
'Renal Unit and University of Melbourne Department of Medicine, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg; and 2Box Hill Hospital,
Box Hill, Victoria, Australia
Abstract are affected in about 30% of cases , and the inherit-
Background. Both IgA glomerulonephritis (IgA gn) ance then follows an autosomal dominant pattern
and thin basement membrane disease (TBMD) are [3,4]. TBMD is characterized by diffuse thinning of
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common forms of glomerulonephritis. Patients with the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) on ultra-
these conditions may present with identical clinical structural examination of renal biopsies [2,5,6].
features, but higher urinary RBC counts, heavier pro- Localized areas of thinning of the GBM are found in
teinuria, and impaired renal function are more some conditions other than TBMD. There can be areas
common in patients with IgA gn. Because IgA gn and of localized or generalized thinning in IgA gn , early
TBMD are common, some patients will have both Alport syndrome , minimal-change and focal
diseases. sclerosing glomerulonephritis, as well as in some forms
Subjects. We describe the clinical features of two indi- of SLE . These conditions can be excluded by the
viduals with both IgA gn and TBMD, and compare light-microscope and immunofiuorescence findings. In
them with the clinical and laboratory characteristics in patients with TBMD, persistent microscopic haemat-
patients with TBMD (« = 15) or IgA gn (« = 32) alone. uria is the most common clinical feature, but macro-
Results. IgA gn was found in two individuals of the scopic haematuria, proteinuria, and hypertension may
110 with TBMD who were studied. They both had occur; patients rarely, however, progress to renal fail-
haematuria with >/100 000 RBC/ml and proteinuria ure [2,5,10,11].
>0.2/day (one had more than 1 g/day). These features IgA glomerulonephritis (IgA gn) is another common
were more consistent with IgA gn than TBMD alone. form of kidney disease [12,13], with an incidence
However, both individuals had normal serum creatin- approximating that of TBMD in patients presenting
ine and creatinine clearance at presentation. Additional with persistent haematuria. We have shown recently
clinical features were macroscopic haematuria in one that patients with IgA gn are more likely to have
and hypertension in both. higher urinary RBC/ml, heavier proteinuria, and
Conclusions. IgA deposits are not uncommon in impaired renal function at presentation than patients
patients with TBMD, and these patients have clinical with TBMD alone. We did not find that a family
features that resemble those seen in IgA gn rather than history of renal disease, macroscopic haematuria, or
TBMD. Patients with both IgA gn and TBMD do not hypertension discriminated between patients with IgA
necessarily have the worse prognosis noted in some gn and TBMD [unpublished findings]. However, mac-
patients with IgA gn. roscopic haematuria associated with infections, urinary
RBC casts, and the presence of glomerular crescents
Key words: IgA glomerulonephritis; thin-basement- on renal biopsy are probably more suggestive of IgA
membrane disease gn than TBMD.
Double glomerulopathies are not uncommon
[14,15], and some individuals can have both TBMD
and IgA gn [16-18]. The aim of this study was to
Introduction determine how often TBMD and IgA gn occurred
together, and whether these patients had any distinctive
Thin-basement-membrane disease (TBMD) is a clinical or prognostic features.
common form of glomerulonephritis occurring in up
to 10% of the population . Other family members
Correspondence and offprint requests to: Dr J. A. Savige, University
Department of Medicine, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, Victoria Biopsy results from the years 1985 to 1993 were reviewed.
3084, Australia. The diagnosis of TBMD was made on the basis of consistent
1996 European Dialysis and Transplant Association-European Renal Association
792 M. Lanteri el al.
thinning of the GBM on grid analysis measurement of renal at the most recent visit 1 year after presentation was
biopsy specimens examined ultrastructurally. All patients 2.3 ml/min with an ESR of 17.
with TBMD had a GBM width less than 250 nm. The
diagnosis of IgA gn was made when there was mesangial cell
proliferation and matrix expansion on light microscopy, Patient 2
together with mesangial deposits of IgA on immunofluoresc-
ent examination of renal biopsy material. In the patients A 47-year-old Greek Australian female was found to
with IgA gn there was no history suggesting be hypertensive on routine physical examination (BP
Henoch-Schonlein purpura, alcoholic liver disease, or coel- 160/90 mmHg), but the rest of the physical examina-
iac disease. tion was normal. She had a family history of
The diagnosis of TBMD was made in 110 biopsies, and in hypertension.
two of these there were features of IgA gn as well (2%). We Her urinary sediment contained more than 100000
have compared the clinical and histological features of these RBC/ml and occasional red cell casts, but the patient
two patients, with the clinical and histological features seen had never had an episode of macroscopic haematuria.
in 15 patients with TBMD or 32 patients with IgA gn alone. She had 1.57 g of protein/24 h and a creatinine clear-
In the 17 patients with TBMD, there was no family history ance of 1.6 ml/s. Her ESR was 60; ANA and anti-
of Alport syndrome or inherited deafness and the light- dsDNA antibody tests were negative. Renal ultrasound
microscopy was normal or with only a slight increase in the
number of mesangial cells or matrix. and IVP were normal.
The light-microscope appearance of the renal biopsy
was again essentially normal, but there were IgA
Patient 1 deposits on immunofluorescence examination and a
A 50-year-old male was referred for investigation of uniformly thinned GBM on ultrastructural
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macroscopic haematuria and loin pain, which had examination.
occurred intermittently for 10 years. On examination Over the following weeks the patient's BP was
he was hypertensive with a BP of 160/90, with arterio- readily controlled with atenolol 50 mg daily, but she
venous nipping only on fundoscopy. He had mild subsequently failed to return for review.
psoriasis. ESR was 60 mm/h. He had more than A comparison of the clinical details of these two
100000 RBC/ml in his urine and 500 mg/24 h of pro- patients and clinical features seen in individuals with
teinuria. Creatinine clearance was 1.89 ml/s. Urine TBMD or IgA gn alone are shown in Table 1. Neither
cytology was unremarkable. Serum protein electro- patient with both TBMD and IgA gn had a family
phoresis revealed a raised IgA at 4.49 g/1. IVP, cystos- history of TBMD or IgA gn. Both patients were
copy, and renal angiography were all normal. distinguished from the patients with TBMD alone by
The renal biopsy showed essentially a normal their degree of haematuria and the presence of pro-
appearance on light microscopy, but mesangial IgA teinuria. These features were more in common with
deposits and small amounts of IgM and Clq were the patients with IgA gn. However hypertension was
demonstrated by immunofluorescence. On ultrastruc- present in both patients but serum creatinine and
tural examination the GBM was uniformly and creatinine clearance were normal in both.
diffusely thinned and the presence of the mesangial
deposits was confirmed.
The macroscopic haematuria resolved and the Discussion
patient's BP was controlled with enalapril. At review
over the next 3 years, there was persistence of the We found two patients with both IgA gn and TBMD
haematuria at low levels. A repeat creatinine clearance when the renal biopsies of 110 (2%) individuals with
Table 1. Clinical features of patients with IgA deposits and thin basement membrane disease compared with thin basement membrane
Presentation IgA plus TBMD TMBD IgA gn
(« = 2) (n=15) (« = 32)
Sex 1M , IF 15F 10M, 22F
Age (years) 47, 50 44 (30-63) 31 (5-61)
Width of GBM (nm) 240 ,230 <250 >250
Family history 0/2 2/15(13%) 3/32 (9.4%)
Macrohaematuria 1/2 2/15(13%) 10/32(31%)
Haematuria (> 100000 RBC/ml) 2/2 (100%) 5/15(30%) 22/32 (69%)
> 0.2 g/day 2/2 (100%) 9/15(60%) 23/32 (72%)
> 1 g/day 1/2 (50%) 2,15 (13%) 13'32 (41%)
Hypertension (BP > 140/90 mmHg) 2/2 (100%) 3/15 (20%) 10/32(31%)
S creatinine >0.11 mmol/1 0,2 (0%) 0 15(0%) 7 32(22%)
Cr clearance $ 1.2 ml/min 0/2 (0%) 2/15(13%) 4/14 (29%)
IgA and thin-basement-membrane disease 793
TBMD were reviewed. This incidence is lower than subset of patients with IgA gn. It is likely that when
the 13/67 (19%) patients with IgA gn and TBMD IgA gn and TBMD occur together, a spectrum of
reported elsewhere . A diffusely thinned GBM severity of IgA gn can be found. The outcome in
should be demonstrated before the diagnosis of TBMD individual patients may be related more to the severity
is made. of the histological lesion than to just the presence of
Focally thinned GBM may be found incidentally in mesangial IgA deposits. However the presence of
IgA gn as well as in a number of other conditions. In superimposed IgA gn may be responsible for the
the other report, 'focal or diffuse' thinning of the GBM clinical presentation of these patients.
was present in 14% of 90 patients with IgA gn [17,18],
and the number of patients with diffusely thinned Acknowledgements. We would like to thank the National Health and
membranes consistent with TBMD was not indicated. Medical Research Council of Australia for supporting this project.
We did not include in our series patients with focal
thinning of the GBM.
While our initial search showed more than two References
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Received for publication: 19.5.1995
Accepted in revised form: 27.12.1995