Collapsing glomerulopathy represents a special variant of the proteinuric kidney disease focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). Histologically, the collapsing form of FSGS (cFSGS) is characterized by segmental or global condensation and obliteration of glomerular capillaries, the appearance of hyperplastic and hypertrophic podocytes and severe tubulointerstitial damage. Clinically, cFSGS patients present with acute kidney injury, nephrotic-range proteinuria and are at a high risk of rapid progression to irreversible kidney failure. cFSGS can be attributed to numerous etiologies, namely, viral infections like HIV, cytomegalovirus, Epstein–Barr-Virus, and parvovirus B19 and also drugs and severe ischemia. Risk variants of the APOL1 gene, predominantly found in people of African descent, increase the risk of developing cFSGS. Patients infected with the new Corona-Virus SARS-CoV-2 display an increased rate of acute kidney injury (AKI) in severe cases of COVID-19. Besides hemodynamic instability, cytokine mediated injury and direct viral entry and infection of renal epithelial cells contributing to AKI, there are emerging reports of cFSGS associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients of mainly African ethnicity. The pathogenesis of cFSGS is proposed to be linked with direct viral infection of podocytes, as described for HIV-associated glomerulopathy. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence that the systemic inflammatory cascade, activated in acute viral infections like COVID-19, is a major contributor to the impairment of basic cellular functions in podocytes. This mini review will summarize the current knowledge on cFSGS associated with viral infections with a special focus on the influence of systemic immune responses and potential mechanisms propagating the development of cFSGS.
Background: Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is a type of nephrotic syndrome leading to end-stage renal disease, and this study aimed to explore the hub genes and pathways associated with FSGS to identify potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets.Methods: We downloaded the microarray datasets GSE121233 and GSE129973 from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. The datasets comprise 25 FSGS samples and 25 normal samples. The differential expression genes (DEGs) were identified using the R package “limma”. Gene Ontology (GO) function and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analyses were performed using the database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery (DAVID) to identify the pathways and functional annotation of the DEGs. The protein–protein interaction (PPI) was constructed based on the Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes (STRING) database and visualized using Cytoscape software. The hub genes of the DEGs were then evaluated using the cytoHubba plugin of Cytoscape. The expression of the hub genes was validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) using the FSGS rat model, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed to validate the accuracy of these hub genes.Results: A total of 45 DEGs including 18 upregulated and 27 downregulated DEGs, were identified in the two GSE datasets (GSE121233 and GSE129973). Among them, five hub genes with a high degree of connectivity were selected. From the PPI network, of the top five hub genes, FN1 was upregulated, while ALB, EGF, TTR, and KNG1 were downregulated. The qRT-PCR analysis of FSGS rats confirmed that the expression of FN1 was upregulated and that of EGF and TTR was downregulated. The ROC analysis indicated that FN1, EGF, and TTR showed considerable diagnostic efficiency for FSGS.Conclusion: Three novel FSGS-specific genes were identified through bioinformatic analysis combined with experimental validation, which may promote our understanding of the molecular underpinning of FSGS and provide potential therapeutic targets for the clinical management.
Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome (IGS) is mainly caused by CUBN gene biallelic mutations. Proteinuria accompanies IGS specific symptoms in about half of the patients, isolated proteinuria is rarely reported. Here we present 3 patients with isolated proteinuria and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) caused by CUBN gene biallelic pathogenic variants.
Whole exome sequencing was performed on three children with isolated proteinuria. CUBN gene biallelic pathogenic variants were found and then verified by sanger sequencing. Their clinical, pathological and molecular genetic characteristics were analyzed and correlated accordingly.
All three children presented with isolated proteinuria, no megaloblastic anemia. Their urine levels of β2 microglobulin were normal or slightly higher. Renal biopsies showed focal segmental glomerulosclerosis with mild glomerular mesangial hypercellularity, partial effacement of foot processes and podocyte microvillation. Two of them were found to carry compound heterozygous mutations and one homozygous mutation of CUBN gene. Totally four CUBN gene biallelic pathogenic variants were identified, including c.9287 T > C (p.L3096P), c.122 + 1G > A, c.7906C > T (p.R2636*), c.10233G > A (p.W3411*). Except for intron splice-site mutation, all other variants are located in highly conserved sites of CUB domain for binding to albumin.
The results demonstrate that CUBN gene mutations may cause isolated proteinuria pathologically presented as FSGS. Our cases extend the spectrum of renal manifestation and genotype of CUBN gene mutations.
Sparsentan is viewed as a dual antagonist of endothelin type A (ETA) receptor and angiotensin II (AngII) receptor and it could be beneficial in patients with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Moreover, it could improve glomerular filtration rate and augment protective tissue remodeling in mouse models of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. The ionic mechanisms through which it interacts with the magnitude and/or gating kinetics of ionic currents in excitable cells were not thoroughly investigated. Herein, we aimed to examine the effects of varying sparsentan concentrations on ionic currents residing in pituitary GH3 somatolactotrophs. From whole-cell current recordings made in GH3 cells, sparsentan (0.3–100 μM) differentially inhibited the peak and late components of voltage-gated Na+ current (INa). The IC50 value of sparsentan required to exert a reduction in peak and late INa in GH3 cells was 15.04 and 1.21 μM, respectively; meanwhile, the KD value estimated from its shortening in the slow component of INa inactivation time constant was 2.09 μM. The sparsentan (10 μM) presence did not change the overall current–voltage relationship of INa; however, the steady-state inactivation curve of the current was shifted to more negative potential in its presence (10 μM), with no change in the gating charge of the curve. The window INa activated by a brief upsloping ramp was decreased during exposure to sparsentan (10 μM); moreover, recovery of peak INa became slowed in its presence. The Tefluthrin (Tef)-stimulated resurgent INa activated in response to abrupt depolarization followed by the descending ramp pulse was additionally attenuated by subsequent application of sparsentan. In continued presence of Tef (3 μM) or β-pompilidotoxin (3 μM), further application of sparsentan (3 μM) reversed their stimulation of INa. However, sparsentan-induced inhibition of INa failed to be overcome by subsequent application of either endothelin 1 (1 μM) or angiotensin II (1 μM); moreover, in continued presence of endothelin (1 μM) or angiotensin II (1 μM), further addition of sparsentan (3 μM) effectively decreased peak INa. Additionally, the application of sparsentan (3 μM) inhibited the peak and late components of erg-mediated K+ current in GH3 cells, although it mildly decreased the amplitude of delayed-rectifier K+ current. Altogether, this study provides a distinct yet unidentified finding that sparsentan may perturb the amplitude or gating of varying ionic currents in excitable cells.
Background: Primary focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) is associated with a high risk of recurrence after kidney transplantation with a major risk of graft loss despite preventive or curative treatments. Aim: to assess graft survival in FSGS kidney-transplant recipients and to compare those that had a relapse with those that had no relapse. Patients/Methods: we included 17 FSGS kidney-transplant recipients between January 2000 and January 2020, separated retrospectively into two groups (recurrences: n = 8 patients; no recurrences: n = 9 patients). FSGS recurrence was defined as having proteinuria of ≥3 g/g or urinary creatinine of ≥3 g/day. All patients received an induction therapy; maintenance immunosuppressive therapy at post-transplantation relied on tacrolimus/mycophenolate mofetil/steroids. In order to prevent or treat FSGS recurrence, patients received apheresis sessions plus rituximab. Results: FSGS recurrence rate was 47%. All patients that relapsed with a first graft also relapsed with subsequent grafts. Median time to recurrence was 3 (min: 1; max: 4745) days, despite rituximab/apheresis prophylaxis. Mean age was significantly lower in the relapsers (group 1) than in the non-relapsers (group 2); i.e., 47 ± 11 vs. 58 ± 9 years (p = 0.04). Time to progression to stage 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD) and young age at FSGS diagnosis were lower in group 1 compared to group 2; i.e., 5 (min: 1; max: 26) vs. 2 (min: 1; max: 26) years, and 16 (min: 4; max: 55) vs. 34 (min: 6; max 48) years, respectively. There was no difference between the two groups in terms of progression to CKD stage 5 on the native kidneys, averaging 7 years in both groups (p = 0.99). In group 1, seven patients received rituximab/apheresis prophylaxis, although this did not prevent the recurrence of FSGS. Conclusion: pretransplant prophylaxis with plasmapheresis/rituximab did not appear to reduce the risk of recurrence of primary FSGS on the graft, but could allow remission in the event of recurrence.
In the glomerulus, Bowman's space is formed by a continuum of glomerular epithelial cells. In focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), glomeruli show segmental scarring, a result of activated PECs invading the glomerular tuft. The segmental scars interrupt the epithelial continuum. However, non-sclerotic segments seem to be preserved even in glomeruli with advanced lesions. We studied the histology of the segmental pattern in Munich Wistar Frömter (MWF) rats, a model for secondary FSGS. Our results showed that matrix layers lined with PECs cover the sclerotic lesions. These PECs formed contacts with podocytes of the uninvolved tuft segments, restoring the epithelial continuum. Formed Bowman's spaces were still connected to the tubular system. Furthermore, in biopsies of patients with secondary FSGS we also detected matrix layers formed by PECs, separating the uninvolved from the sclerotic glomerular segments.
While PECs have a major role in the formation of glomerulosclerosis, we showed that in FSGS, PECs also restore the glomerular epithelial cell continuum that surrounds Bowman's space. This process may be beneficial and indispensable for glomerular filtration in the uninvolved segments of sclerotic glomeruli.
Rituximab is a chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody. It acts mainly through complement-dependent cytotoxicity on B cells expressing the CD20 marker. In this review, we analyse the efficacy and possible pitfalls of rituximab to treat nephrotic syndromes by taking into account pharmacological considerations and CD19 marker testing utility. Despite the fact that the drug has been in use for years, efficacy and treatment schedules in adults with nephrotic syndrome are still a matter of debate. Clinical trials have proven the efficacy and safety of rituximab in idiopathic membranous nephropathy. Data from observational studies also showed the efficacy of rituximab in minimal change disease and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. Rituximab use is now widely recommended by new Kidney Disease Improved Outcome (KDIGO) guidelines in membranous nephropathy and in frequent-relapsing, steroid-dependent minimal change disease or focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. However, rituximab response has a large interindividual variability. One reason could be that rituximab is lost in the urine at a higher extent in patients with nonselective nephrotic proteinuria, exposing patients to different rituximab plasma levels. Moreover, the association between CD19+ levels and clinical response or relapses is not always present, making the use of this marker in clinical practice complex. High resolution flow cytometry has increased the capability of detecting residual CD19+ B cells. Moreover, it can identify specific B-cell subsets (including IgG-switched memory B cells), which can repopulate at different rates. Its wider use could become a useful tool for better understanding reasons of rituximab failure or avoiding unnecessary retreatments.