Podocyte Depletion in Thin GBM and Alport Syndrome.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


PLoS One, Volume 11, Issue 5, p.e0155255 (2016)


Adolescent, asb, Case-Control Studies, Child, Child, Preschool, Glomerular Basement Membrane, Humans, Nephritis, Hereditary, Podocytes


The proximate genetic cause of both Thin GBM and Alport Syndrome (AS) is abnormal α3, 4 and 5 collagen IV chains resulting in abnormal glomerular basement membrane (GBM) structure/function. We previously reported that podocyte detachment rate measured in urine is increased in AS, suggesting that podocyte depletion could play a role in causing progressive loss of kidney function. To test this hypothesis podometric parameters were measured in 26 kidney biopsies from 21 patients aged 2-17 years with a clinic-pathologic diagnosis including both classic Alport Syndrome with thin and thick GBM segments and lamellated lamina densa [n = 15] and Thin GBM cases [n = 6]. Protocol biopsies from deceased donor kidneys were used as age-matched controls. Podocyte depletion was present in AS biopsies prior to detectable histologic abnormalities. No abnormality was detected by light microscopy at <30% podocyte depletion, minor pathologic changes (mesangial expansion and adhesions to Bowman's capsule) were present at 30-50% podocyte depletion, and FSGS was progressively present above 50% podocyte depletion. eGFR did not change measurably until >70% podocyte depletion. Low level proteinuria was an early event at about 25% podocyte depletion and increased in proportion to podocyte depletion. These quantitative data parallel those from model systems where podocyte depletion is the causative event. This result supports a hypothesis that in AS podocyte adherence to the GBM is defective resulting in accelerated podocyte detachment causing progressive podocyte depletion leading to FSGS-like pathologic changes and eventual End Stage Kidney Disease. Early intervention to reduce podocyte depletion is projected to prolong kidney survival in AS.