Glomerulonephritis is the major cause of proteinuria in renal transplant recipients: histopathologic findings of renal allografts with proteinuria


Corresponding author (present address): Jaegul Chung, MD, Department of Diagnostic Pathology, Asan Kangnung Hospital, 415 BangDongRi SachunMyun KangNungSi, KangWonDo 210-711, South Korea. Tel.: 82-391-610-3419; Fax: 82-391-610-3430


The proteinuria in renal allograft recipients has been regarded as a sign of poor prognosis. The causes of post-transplant proteinuria include chronic rejection, chronic transplant glomerulopathy, glomerulonephritis (GN), acute rejection, and cyclosporine nephrotoxicity. Among them, chronic rejection is known to be most frequent. We analyzed the histopathologic findings of renal allograft biopsies in 197 Korean recipients with proteinuria. Among them, 26 patients developed proteinuria over 500 mg/d. All patients received baseline immunosuppression with cyclosporine. From 26 patients with post-transplant proteinuria, 29 biopsies were performed and their histologic diagnoses were immunoglubulin A nephropathy (IgAN) in 17, IgAN combined with chronic allograft nephropathy in 1, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in 2, crescentic GN in 1, membranous GN in 1, diabetic nephropathy in 1, acute tubulointerstitial nephritis in 1, and chronic rejection in 3 biopsies. The remaining two biopsies showed nonspecific findings. The most common cause of post-transplant proteinuria was IgAN (62% of biopsies). The incidence of chronic rejection was relatively low and predominant cyclosporine-associated changes were not observed. In conclusion, our data suggest that the main causes of post-transplant proteinuria in Korea are primary glomerulonephritides rather than chronic rejection or cyclosporine nephrotoxicity, and the kidney allograft biopsies from patients with proteinuria should be handled as native kidney.