, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 216-224

Clinicopathologic features of glomerular lesions associated with hepatitis C virus infection in Japan

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Abstract

Background

We determined the incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related glomerulonephritis in Japan and the glomerular localization of HCV-related antigens in this disorder.

Methods

We analyzed urinalysis findings in 100 consecutive Japanese patients with HCV chronic liver disease from 1993 to 1994. Immunohistochemical analysis using monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies to HCV-core antigen and polyclonal antibodies to HCV-envelope antigen was done on kidney specimens from 11 of 29 patients with antibody to HCV (anti-HCV-Ab).

Results

Eight of 100 patients had proteinuria, but only 2 cases (2%) were related to HCV nephropathy. Pathohistologic analysis showed 10 patients to have hepatic glomerulosclerosis, and 9 patients had mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis involving primary immunoglobulin A nephropathy. Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis was seen in 4 biopsy specimens that showed subendothelial electron-dense deposits and annular structures with characteristic cryogloblin. HCV core antigen was detected along the capillary walls with the same pattern as that of immunoglobulin G deposition and electron-dense deposits in 5 of 6 specimens from patients with both anti-HCV-Ab and HCV ribonucleic acid positive in the sera, but could not be detected in any of 3 specimens, from patients with anti-HCV-Ab but no HCV ribonucleic acid. Envelope antigen was not detected in the glomeruli of any specimens.

Conclusions

Glomerular lesions associated with HCV infection were characterized by deposition of immune complexes containing HCV core antigen and immunoglobulin G, and by the subendothelial deposition of cryoglobulin. These HCV-related glomerular diseases are rare in Japan (2% incidence), and these lesions should be distinguished from hepatic glomerulosclerosis related to advanced liver disease and other primary glomerular diseases.