, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 432-439
Date: 07 Oct 2008

Analysis of intra-GBM microstructures in a SLE case with glomerulopathy associated with podocytic infolding

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Systemically podocytic infolding into the GBM which causes nonargyrophilic holes in the GBM in association with intra-GBM microstructures has been considered as a new pathological entity. However, its pathomechanisms are largely unknown.


We analyzed intra-GBM microstructures in an SLE patient with glomerulopathy associated with podocytic infolding by immunoelectron microscopy for vimentin (a marker for both podocyte and endothelium) and C5b-9 and by 3D reconstruction of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images by computer tomography method.


Immunofluorescent study showed immunoglobulin deposition in a diffuse, capillary pattern; however, electron-dense deposits like stage 3 membranous nephropathy could be found only in some capillary loops by TEM in spite of the systemic existence of podocytic infolding and the intra-GBM microstructures. Three-dimensional reconstructed images of the TEM images revealed that some of the intra-GBM microstructures made connections with the podocyte. The clustered microstructures underneath the podocyte and their surroundings looked as a whole like the degraded part of podocyte in 3D reconstructed images. Immunoelectron microscopy showed that vimentin was positive in most intra-GBM microstructures. C5b-9 was positive along the entire epithelial side of the GBM and in some microstructures, suggesting that the podocytes may be attacked by C5b-9 and that the microstructures may contain C5b-9 bound cellular membranes.


Intra-GBM microstructures may be originated mainly from the podocyte. Podotyte and GBM injuries caused by C5b-9 attack to podocytes might contribute in part to podocytic infolding and intra-GBM microstructures in this case.