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American Journal of Kidney Diseases

C4 Glomerulopathy: A Disease Entity Associated With C4d Deposition

Published:February 17, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1053/j.ajkd.2016.01.012
      Complement-mediated glomerulonephritis, which includes C3 glomerulopathy, is characterized by dominant staining of C3 with minimal or no immunoglobulin deposits on immunofluorescence studies. We describe a new entity of complement-mediated glomerulonephritis that is characterized by bright C4d staining but with no or minimal C3 or immunoglobulin deposits on immunofluorescence studies. We label this entity as C4 glomerulopathy. C4 glomerulopathy includes C4 dense deposit disease and C4 glomerulonephritis. C4 dense deposit disease is characterized by bright C4d staining and dense deposits along glomerular basement membranes. C4 glomerulonephritis is characterized by bright C4d staining and many mesangial electron-dense deposits, with or without rare intramembranous electron-dense deposits. We describe clinical features and kidney biopsy results in a short series of 3 patients to highlight these findings. All 3 patients presented with proteinuria, and 2 patients also had hematuria. Kidney function was preserved in 2 patients, whereas 1 patient presented with declining kidney function. Evaluation for autoimmune disease, infection, and paraprotein yielded negative results in all patients. Complement levels were normal, although 1 patient had borderline low C4 levels. Kidney biopsy showed mesangial proliferative or membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis with bright C4d staining and absent or minimal C1q, C3, and immunoglobulin. Laser microdissection and mass spectrometry of glomeruli in all 3 patients showed large to moderate numbers of spectra matching C4. Furthermore, analysis of amino acid sequences showed that they were localized to the C4d portion of C4, consistent with immunofluorescence findings. Further studies are required to determine the underlying cause. In summary, we describe a novel complement-mediated glomerulonephritis that is characterized by bright glomerular C4d staining with minimal or absent staining for C1q, C3, and immunoglobulin.

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