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      Update on C3 Glomerulopathy: A Complement-Mediated Disease

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          C3 glomerulopathy (C3G) is a clinicopathologic entity secondary to dysregulation of the alternative complement pathway in plasma and the glomerular microenvironment. The current consensus definition of C3G relies on immunofluorescence staining criteria. However, due to its high clinical variability, these criteria may not be accurate enough in some clinical scenarios. Thus, a new pathogenic classification based on a cluster analysis of clinical, histologic, and genetic data has recently been proposed, which could also help identify patients at higher risk of progression. Several pathogenic abnormalities in complement genes have been described, and the role of autoantibodies in the disease is increasingly recognized, but still the genotype-phenotype correlations in C3G are poorly understood. C3G may be diagnosed in both children and adults. The spectrum of clinical manifestations is wide, although one of the most common clinical presentations is proteinuria with relatively preserved kidney function. In order to standardize the evaluation of kidney biopsies from these patients, a histopathologic index was recently proposed, including both parameters of activity and chronicity. However, this index has not yet been validated in independent cohorts. Currently, no targeted therapies are available in clinical settings for the treatment of C3G, although several new molecules are under investigation. Treatment with corticosteroids plus mycophenolate mofetil has been shown to be associated with improved renal outcomes, as compared to other immunosuppressive regimens. Yet, the main determinants of treatment response with this regimen and the influence of the underlying pathogenic drivers have not been extensively studied. The therapeutic response to eculizumab, an anti-C5 monoclonal antibody, has been shown to be highly heterogeneous. Thus, its current clinical indication in C3G is restricted to rapidly progressive forms of the disease. To summarize, in recent years, several important advances have taken place in the understanding of C3G, but still further studies are warranted to elucidate the best therapeutic strategies that could improve prognosis of this entity.

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          Most cited references 46

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          Overview of Complement Activation and Regulation

          Summary Complement is an important component of the innate immune system that is crucial for defense from microbial infections and for clearance of immune complexes and injured cells. In normal conditions complement is tightly controlled by a number of fluid-phase and cell surface proteins to avoid injury to autologous tissues. When complement is hyperactivated, as occurs in autoimmune diseases or in subjects with dysfunctional regulatory proteins, it drives a severe inflammatory response in numerous organs. The kidney appears to be particularly vulnerable to complement-mediated inflammatory injury. Injury may derive from deposition of circulating active complement fragments in glomeruli, but complement locally produced and activated in the kidney also may have a role. Many kidney disorders have been linked to abnormal complement activation, including immune-complex–mediated glomerulonephritis and rare genetic kidney diseases, but also tubulointerstitial injury associated with progressive proteinuric diseases or ischemia-reperfusion.
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            Eculizumab for dense deposit disease and C3 glomerulonephritis.

            The principle defect in dense deposit disease and C3 glomerulonephritis is hyperactivity of the alternative complement pathway. Eculizumab, a monoclonal antibody that binds to C5 to prevent formation of the membrane attack complex, may prove beneficial. In this open-label, proof of concept efficacy and safety study, six subjects with dense deposit disease or C3 glomerulonephritis were treated with eculizumab every other week for 1 year. All had proteinuria >1 g/d and/or AKI at enrollment. Subjects underwent biopsy before enrollment and repeat biopsy at the 1-year mark. The subjects included three patients with dense deposit disease (including one patient with recurrent dense deposit disease in allograft) and three patients with C3 glomerulonephritis (including two patients with recurrent C3 glomerulonephritis in allograft). Genetic and complement function testing revealed a mutation in CFH and MCP in one subject each, C3 nephritic factor in three subjects, and elevated levels of serum membrane attack complex in three subjects. After 12 months, two subjects showed significantly reduced serum creatinine, one subject achieved marked reduction in proteinuria, and one subject had stable laboratory parameters but histopathologic improvements. Elevated serum membrane attack complex levels normalized on therapy and paralleled improvements in creatinine and proteinuria. Clinical and histopathologic data suggest a response to eculizumab in some but not all subjects with dense deposit disease and C3 glomerulonephritis. Elevation of serum membrane attack complex before treatment may predict response. Additional research is needed to define the subgroup of dense deposit disease/C3 glomerulonephritis patients in whom eculizumab therapy can be considered.
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              Dimerization of complement factor H-related proteins modulates complement activation in vivo.

              The complement system is a key component regulation influences susceptibility to age-related macular degeneration, meningitis, and kidney disease. Variation includes genomic rearrangements within the complement factor H-related (CFHR) locus. Elucidating the mechanism underlying these associations has been hindered by the lack of understanding of the biological role of CFHR proteins. Here we present unique structural data demonstrating that three of the CFHR proteins contain a shared dimerization motif and that this hitherto unrecognized structural property enables formation of both homodimers and heterodimers. Dimerization confers avidity for tissue-bound complement fragments and enables these proteins to efficiently compete with the physiological complement inhibitor, complement factor H (CFH), for ligand binding. Our data demonstrate that these CFHR proteins function as competitive antagonists of CFH to modulate complement activation in vivo and explain why variation in the CFHRs predisposes to disease.

                Author and article information

                S. Karger AG
                June 2020
                05 May 2020
                : 144
                : 6
                : 272-280
                aInstituto de Investigación Hospital 12 de octubre (i+12), Madrid, Spain
                bDepartment of Medicine, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
                cDepartment of Immunology, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
                dDepartment of Nephrology, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain
                Author notes
                *Dr. Fernando Caravaca-Fontán, Instituto de Investigación Hospital 12 de Octubre (i+12), Ave. Córdoba s/n, ES–28041 Madrid (Spain),
                507254 Nephron 2020;144:272–280
                © 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Pages: 9
                Clinical Practice: Review Article


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