Clinicopathological features of progressive renal involvement in TAFRO syndrome: A case report and literature review

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TAFRO syndrome is a systemic inflammatory disease characterized by a constellation of symptoms: Thrombocytopenia, Anasarca, MyeloFibrosis, Renal dysfunction, and Organomegaly. Progressive renal insufficiency is a predominant symptom; however, the mechanism of acute kidney injury (AKI) remains unclear, probably because severe thrombocytopenia prevents kidney biopsy. We report a rare case of TAFRO syndrome with histologically confirmed renal involvement.

Patients concerns:

A 70-year-old man developed fever, anasarca, AKI, thrombocytopenia, and hepatosplenomegaly.


Plasma vascular endothelial growth factor and serum interleukin-6 levels were significantly elevated. The diagnosis of TAFRO syndrome was made based on his clinical and laboratory findings. Kidney biopsy was performed for the evaluation of AKI and provided a diagnosis of membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis–like lesions due to endothelial injury. Glomerular capillary lumens were extremely narrowed or occluded by endothelial swelling, and marked widening of the subendothelial space by electron-lucent material resulted in mesangiolysis and a double-contoured glomerular basement membrane with no immune complex deposits.

Interventions and Outcomes:

The patient required temporary hemodialysis due to oliguric AKI, but steroid therapy rapidly improved renal function.


Typically, patients with progressive renal involvement in TAFRO syndrome rapidly develop oliguric or anuric AKI. This report suggests that the reduction of glomerular perfusion by glomerular endothelial injury might be a primary factor in the progressive AKI of TAFRO syndrome. Our case and the literature review indicate that steroid and/or biological therapies result in highly favorable renal outcomes in patients with progressive AKI in TAFRO syndrome.

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