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28.01.2019 | Original article | Ausgabe 5/2019

Clinical and Experimental Nephrology 5/2019

Pathologic glomerular characteristics and glomerular basement membrane alterations in biopsy-proven thin basement membrane nephropathy

Clinical and Experimental Nephrology > Ausgabe 5/2019
Yusuke Kajimoto, Yoko Endo, Mika Terasaki, Shinobu Kunugi, Toru Igarashi, Akiko Mii, Yasuhiro Terasaki, Akira Shimizu
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10157-018-01687-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Thin basement membrane nephropathy (TBMN) is diagnosed by diffuse thinning of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) without any clinical and pathologic findings of Alport syndrome and the other renal diseases. TBMN is characterized clinically by benign familial hematuria but rarely develops into end-stage renal disease.


In 27 cases of biopsy-proven TBMN, we evaluated the pathologic characteristics of TBMN, and examined the correlation between these pathologic characterizations and renal dysfunction.


All patients had hematuria, and 21 patients (77.8%) had proteinuria. In six patients (28.6%) who were more than 50 years of age, the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) decreased from G3a to G4 in the chronic kidney disease stage. Pathologically, an irregular decrease in intensity of type IV collagen α5(IV) chain was seen in GBM, and irregular thinning with diffuse rough etched images was observed on the GBM surface with several sizes of holes by low-vacuum scanning electron microscopy. The glomerular morphology of TBMN was characterized by an increased number of small glomerular capillaries with an increased extracellular matrix (ECM). These characteristic morphologic alterations were evident from a young age in patients with TBMN, but were not correlated directly with the decrease of eGFR, the degree of hematuria, and proteinuria. The decrease of eGFR in patients with TBMN who were more than 50 years of age might be primarily mediated by arteriolosclerosis-associated glomerulosclerosis and interstitial fibrosis.


Characteristic pathological glomerular findings and GBM alterations occurred from a young age but were not associated directly with renal impairment in biopsy-proven TBMN.

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