A Panel of Serum Biomarkers Differentiates IgA Nephropathy from Other Renal Diseases

Yanagawa, Hiroyuki; Suzuki, Hitoshi; Suzuki, Yusuke; Kiryluk, Krzysztof; Gharavi, Ali G.; Matsuoka, Kiyoshi; Makita, Yuko; Julian, Bruce A.; Novak, Jan; Tomino, Yasuhiko

Background and Objectives:

There is increasing evidence that galactose-deficient IgA1 (Gd-IgA1) and Gd-IgA1-containing immune complexes are important for the pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy (IgAN). In the present study, we assessed a novel noninvasive multi-biomarker approach in the diagnostic test for IgAN.

Materials and Methods:

We compared serum levels of IgA, IgG, Gd-IgA1, Gd-IgA1-specific IgG and Gd-IgA1-specific IgA in 135 IgAN patients, 79 patients with non-IgAN chronic kidney disease (CKD) controls and 106 healthy controls. Serum was collected at the time of kidney biopsy from all IgAN and CKD patients.


Each serum marker was significantly elevated in IgAN patients compared to CKD (P<0.001) and healthy controls (P<0.001). While 41% of IgAN patients had elevated serum Gd-IgA1 levels, 91% of these patients exhibited Gd-IgA1-specific IgG levels above the 90th percentile for healthy controls (sensitivity 89%, specificity 92%). Although up to 25% of CKD controls, particularly those with immune-mediated glomerular diseases including lupus nephritis, also had elevated serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific IgG, most IgAN patients had elevated levels of Gd-IgA1-specific antibody of both isotypes. Serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific IgG were associated with renal histological grading. Furthermore, there was a trend toward higher serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific IgG in IgAN patients with at least moderate proteinuria (≥1.0 g/g), compared to patients with less proteinuria.


Serum levels of Gd-IgA1-specific antibodies are elevated in most IgAN patients, and their assessment, together with serum levels of Gd-IgA1, improves the specificity of the assays. Our observations suggest that a panel of serum biomarkers may be helpful in differentiating IgAN from other glomerular diseases.


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October 14, 2016