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      Changes of Lymphocyte Populations in Pediatric Steroid-Sensitive Nephrotic Syndrome Are More Pronounced in Remission than in Relapse

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          Background/Aim: Although clinical and immunological findings in steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS) favor an immunopathogenesis, many issues remain unsolved. Comprehensive studies analyzing cellular and humoral immunity in SSNS are scarce, and few studies addressed the effect of steroids on immunological factors. Methods: We therefore performed a cross-sectional study of T and B lymphocyte populations in 89 children during the different stages of the disease and related the findings to parameters of humoral immunity and treatment with steroids. Results: In untreated relapse, an increase in the proportion of activated CD3+ lymphocytes with a concomitant reduction of CD19+ B cells was noted compared to healthy controls. Conversely, patients with steroid dependency, relapsing on alternate-day steroids, showed a decline of the absolute numbers as well as proportion of CD4+ lymphocytes but a relative increase in CD19+ B cells, compared to healthy controls. Also untreated remission was characterized by an absolute and relative decrease in CD4+ lymphocytes compared to healthy controls which was accompanied by a significant increase in the proportion of CD8+ and also activated CD3+ lymphocytes. Steroid-induced remission resulted in suppression of absolute and relative CD4+, while absolute and relative B cells were upregulated in this group compared to untreated remission. Summary and Conclusion: Alterations of lymphocyte populations in SSNS are not limited to relapse but seem to be more pronounced in remission and show a different profile with steroid treatment. Changes of lymphocyte populations do not only affect T but also B lymphocytes, which may be of relevance in the pathogenesis of this disorder.

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          Most cited references 20

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          Pathogenesis of lipoid nephrosis: a disorder of T-cell function.

           J Shalhoub (1974)
          Clinical observations suggest that lipoid nephrosis is produced by a systemic abnormality of T-cell function resulting in the secretion of a circulating chemical mediator toxic to an immunologically innocent glomerular basement membrane. The lack of evidence of a humoral antibody response, remission induced by measles which modifies cell-mediated immunity, the therapeutic benefits of steroids and cyclophosphamide which also abate cell-mediated responses, and the occurrence of this syndrome in Hodgkin's disease support this hypothesis. The susceptibility of untreated patients to pneumococcal infections may be of primary or secondary pathogenetic importance. Taken together, the data suggest that this syndrome is a clinical expression of a self-limited primary immune-deficiency disease.
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            Rituximab for idiopathic membranous nephropathy.

            Treatments for idiopathic membranous nephropathy, a common cause of nephrotic syndrome, can be very toxic. In view of the pathogenic potential of B cells in this disease, we studied the effects of four weekly infusions of rituximab (375 mg/m(2)-- the monoclonal antibody to B-cell antigen CD20--in eight patients who had idiopathic membranous nephropathy with persistent nephrotic syndrome. At weeks 4 and 20, urinary protein decreased from mean (SE) 8.6 g/24 h (1.4) to 3.8 (0.8) and 3.7 (0.9), respectively (p<0.0001). At week 20, albuminuria and albumin fractional clearance decreased by 70% and 65%, and serum albumin increased by 31%. CD20 B lymphocytes fell below normal ranges up to study end. The short-term risk-benefit profile of rituximab seems more favourable to that of any other immunosuppressive drug used to treat idiopathic membranous nephropathy.
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              Change of the course of steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome after rituximab therapy.

              A 16-year-old patient with steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome with more than 35 relapses developed severe relapsing idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). At the age of 2 years, nephrotic syndrome was diagnosed and successfully treated with a standard prednisone regimen. Frequent relapses occurred. Treatment with oral cyclophosphamide followed by cyclosporine was successful, but several attempts to withdraw steroids failed and the patient suffered from multiple relapses. At the age of 12 years, renal biopsy revealed focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and cyclosporine toxicity. A second course of oral cyclophosphamide was unsuccessful and tacrolimus resulted in the development of diabetes mellitus, which was reversed after discontinuation of the drug. At the age of 15 years the patient, still being steroid dependent, developed ITP. Neither steroids nor intravenous immunoglobulins induced permanent remission. Only weekly immunoglobulin infusions could temporarily restore the platelet count. To treat ITP in this desperate situation we decided to deplete B-cells with the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab. Intravenous infusions of rituximab (375 mg/m(2)) were given once weekly for 4 consecutive weeks without adverse events. Four weeks after the first rituximab dosage, the thrombocyte count increased to normal values. There has been no subsequent relapse of either thrombocytopenia or nephrotic syndrome (on cyclosporine, without steroids) to date. We conclude that B-cell depletion with rituximab might have altered the course of steroid-dependent nephrotic syndrome in our patient.

                Author and article information

                Am J Nephrol
                American Journal of Nephrology
                S. Karger AG
                April 2005
                18 May 2005
                : 25
                : 2
                : 132-137
                Pediatric Nephrology, University Children’s Hospital, Hamburg, Germany
                85357 Am J Nephrol 2005;25:132–137
                © 2005 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 3, References: 35, Pages: 6
                Self URI (application/pdf):
                Original Report: Patient-Oriented, Translational Research


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