Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN), the most frequent cause of primary glomerulonephritis worldwide, is an autoimmune disease with complex pathogenesis. In this review, we focus on T cells and summarize knowledge about their involvement in pathophysiology and treatment of IgAN
We reviewed the literature for (1) alterations of T cell subpopulations in IgAN, (2) experimental and clinical proofs for T cells’ participation in IgAN pathogenesis, (3) clinical correlations with T cell-associated alterations, and (4) influence of drugs used in IgAN therapy on T cell subpopulations.
We found that IgAN is characterized by higher proportions of circulatory Th2, Tfh, Th17, Th22 and γδ T cells, but lower Th1 and Treg cells. We discuss genetic and epigenetic makeup that may contribute to this immunological phenotype. We found that Th2, Th17 and Tfh-type interleukins contribute to elevated synthesis of galactose-deficient IgA1 (Gd-IgA1) and that the production of anti-Gd-IgA1 autoantibodies may be stimulated by Tfh cells. We described the roles of Th2, Th17, Th22 and Treg cells in the renal injury and summarized correlations between T cell-associated alterations and clinical features of IgAN (proteinuria, reduced GFR, hematuria). We detailed the impact of immunosuppressive drugs on T cell subpopulations and found that the majority of drugs have nonoptimal influence on T cells in IgAN patients.