BackgroundMembranous nephropathy (MN) has been recognized to occur in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection since the beginning of the HIV epidemic. The prevalence of phospholipase A2 receptor (PLA2R)-associated MN in this group has not been well studied.
MethodsWe conducted a retrospective review of electronic pathology databases at three institutions to identify patients with MN and known HIV at the time of renal biopsy. Patients with comorbidities and coinfections known to be independently associated with MN were excluded.
ResultsWe identified 11 HIV-positive patients with biopsy-confirmed MN meeting inclusion and exclusion criteria. Patient ages ranged from 39 to 66 years old, and 10 of 11 patients (91%) were male. The majority of patients presented with nephrotic-range proteinuria, were on anti-retroviral therapy at the time of biopsy and had low or undetectable HIV viral loads. Biopsies from 5 of 10 (50%) patients demonstrated capillary wall staining for PLA2R. Measurement of serum anti-PLA2R antibodies was performed in three patients, one of whom had positive anti-PLA2R antibody titers. Follow-up data was available on 10 of 11 patients (median length of follow-up: 44 months; range: 4-145 months). All patients were maintained on anti-retroviral therapy (ARV) and 5 patients (52%) received concomitant immunosuppressive regimens. Three patients developed end-stage renal disease (ESRD) during the follow-up period.
ConclusionsMN in the setting of HIV is often identified in the setting of an undetectable viral loads, and similar to other chronic viral infection-associated MNs, ~ 50% of cases demonstrate tissue reactivity with PLA2R antigen, which may be seen without corresponding anti-PLA2R serum antibodies.