Characterization of THSD7A-antibodies not binding to glomerular THSD7A in a patient with diabetes mellitus but no membranous nephropathy


Membranous nephropathy (MN) is an autoimmune disease caused by autoantibodies against the podocyte antigens phospholipase A2 receptor 1 (PLA2R1) and thrombospondin type 1 domain containing protein 7A (THSD7A) in 80% and 2-3% of patients, respectively. THSD7A antibodies are considered to be pathogenic and highly specific for MN patients. Using an indirect immunofluorescence test (IIFT) we detected THSD7A-antibodies (titre 1:10) in the serum of a patient with high proteinuria who, however, in the kidney biopsy was diagnosed with diabetic nephropathy and MN was excluded as a possible cause of proteinuria. Different immunofluorescence assays and Western blot techniques using recombinant THSD7A (rTHSD7A) or THSD7A from different human tissues revealed that the circulating THSD7A-autoantibodies were only of the IgG3 subclass. The patient serum reacted exclusively with rTHSD7A and only when the antigen was present in reducing Western blot conditions, or on formaldehyde-fixed cells for the IIFT. Our findings show for the first time the existence of circulating THSD7A-antibodies recognizing denatured/reduced rTHSD7A, which do not react with glomerular THSD7A in vivo and are thus presumptively non-pathogenic. As a consequence, kidney biopsy or Western blot analyses of THSD7A under non-reducing conditions should be performed to confirm the diagnosis of THSD7A-associated MN, especially in cases with low THSD7A-antibody levels in the IIFT.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Article number16188
Publication statusPublished - 10.08.2021

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© 2021. The Author(s).

PubMed 34376704