Rituximab fails where eculizumab restores renal function in C3nef-related DDD
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- Rousset-Rouvière, C., Cailliez, M., Garaix, F. et al. Pediatr Nephrol (2014) 29: 1107. doi:10.1007/s00467-013-2711-5
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Dense deposit disease (DDD), a C3 glomerulopathy (C3G), is a rare disease with unfavorable progression towards end-stage kidney disease. The pathogenesis of DDD is due to cytotoxic effects related to acquired or genetic dysregulation of the complement alternative pathway, which is at times accompanied by the production of C3 nephritic factor (C3NeF), an auto-antibody directed against the alternative C3 convertase. Available treatments include plasma exchange, CD20-targeted antibodies, and a terminal complement blockade via the anti-C5 monoclonal antibody eculizumab.
We report here the case of an 8-year-old child with C3NeF and refractory DDD who presented with a nephritic syndrome. She tested positive for C3NeF activity; C3 was undetectable. Genetic analyses of the alternative complement pathway were normal. Methylprednisolone pulses and mycophenolate mofetil treatment resulted in complete recovery of renal function and a reduction in proteinuria. Corticosteroids were tapered and then withdrawn. Four months after corticosteroid discontinuation, hematuria and proteinuria recurred, and a renal biopsy confirmed an active DDD with a majority of extracapillary crescents. Despite an increase in immunosuppressive drugs, including methylprednisolone pulses and rituximab therapy, the patient suffered acute renal failure within 3 weeks, requiring dialysis. Eculizumab treatment resulted in a quick and impressive response. Hematuria very quickly resolved, kidney function improved, and no further dialysis was required. The patient received bimonthly eculizumab injections of 600 mg, allowing for normalization of renal function and reduction of proteinuria to <0.5 g per day. Since then, she continues to receive eculizumab.
Complement regulation pathway-targeted therapy may be a specific and useful treatment for rapidly progressing DDD prior to the development of glomerulosclerosis. Our data provide evidence supporting the pivotal role of complement alternative pathway abnormalities in C3G with DDD.