Antibodies against M-type phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R) are serological markers of disease activity in patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy (iMN). To determine the most sensitive test for the diagnosis of PLA2R-related membranous nephropathy (MN) irrespective of sampling time, we investigated the presence of PLA2R in glomerular immune deposits and assessed circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies in a retrospective cohort of Czech patients with idiopathic, lupus and other few secondary MN.Methods
We tested archival paraffin-embedded kidney biopsies of 84 consecutive patients with biopsy-proven MN, for the presence of PLA2R in glomerular immune deposits and we measured circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies using the indirect immunofluorescence test, all reagents being commercially available.Results
In 45 of 65 (69%) patients with iMN, PLA2R was detected in a finely granular pattern in sub-epithelial deposits along glomerular capillary loops. Circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies were detected in 20 of 31 (65%) sera from patients sampled during active disease. Six patients with active disease were negative for circulating anti-PLA2R antibodies despite PLA2R antigen positivity in the kidney biopsies. Only 8 of 37 (22%) sera sampled at the time of remission were PLA2R positive while PLA2R antigen was found in 22 of the 37 (59%) corresponding biopsies. PLA2R was found in immune deposits in 3 patients with secondary MN (2 with hepatitis B, and 1 with sarcoidosis) but in none of the 16 patients with lupus.Conclusions
In case of delayed serum sampling, assessment of PLA2R antigen in biopsy specimens is more sensitive than the serological test for the diagnosis of PLA2R-related MN which can be established retrospectively.