Yi-Fang Hu a , b , c , d , e , Ying Tan a , b , c , d , e , Xiao-Juan Yu a , b , c , d , e , Hui Wang a , b , c , d , e , f , Su-Xia Wang a , b , c , d , e , f , Feng Yu a , b , c , d , e , g , * , Ming-Hui Zhao a , b , c , d , e , h
28 August 2020
Background: The current study aimed to evaluate the associations between podocyte injury and clinicopathological features in renal thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) based on a Chinese cohort, which might be underscored in this disease. Methods: The clinical, laboratory, and renal histopathological data of patients with renal biopsy-proven TMA from 2000 to 2015 in our institute were collected. Foot process effacement (FPE) was quantified by foot process width (FPW) by electron microscopy. Podocytes in the renal specimens were also detected by stainings for podocyte-specific markers, including Wilms tumor 1 (WT-1), synaptopodin, and podocalyxin. The associations between FPW and clinico-histopathological data were further analyzed. A composite end-point was defined by all-cause death or end-stage renal disease to address the predictive value of FPW. Results: Sixty-three patients with renal biopsy-proven TMA were enrolled. The FPW of renal TMA patients was 1,090 ± 637 nm (range, 572–4,748 nm), which was significantly higher than the normal range in our center ( p = 0.005). By immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence assays, we found decreased expressions of synaptopodin, podocalyxin, and WT-1 and continued stainings of WT-1 in some podocytes without detectable synaptopodin stainings in the areas of sclerotic tufts and cellular crescents. The FPW value was correlated with the serum albumin concentration ( r<sub>s</sub> = −0.281, p = 0.026), proteinuria amount ( r<sub>s</sub> = 0.255, p = 0.047), serum creatinine levels ( r<sub>s</sub> = 0.339, p = 0.007), and eGFR ( r<sub>s</sub> = −0.335, p = 0.007). According to ROC curve analysis, the optimal cutoff level of FPW for predicting the composite end-point was 869 nm. In patients with FPW ≥ 869 nm, FPW levels were further correlated with the severity of mesangiolysis ( r<sub>s</sub> = 0.351, p = 0.033) and glomerulosclerosis ( r<sub>s</sub> = 0.369, p = 0.025) in pathological evaluations. Patients without clinical remission also had higher FPW than those with remission (1,240 ± 793 vs. 925 ± 344 nm, p = 0.013). The multivariate Cox hazard model showed that FPW ≥ 869 nm was an independent risk factor for the composite end-point (hazard ratio: 3.64, 95% CI: 1.37–9.66, p = 0.009). Conclusion: The podocyte injury was prevalent and the FPW levels were closely associated with clinicopathological features, especially prognosis, in renal TMA patients.