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Quantitative morphometrics reveals glomerular changes in patients with infrequent segmentally sclerosed glomeruli


Aims Detection of one segmentally sclerosed glomerulus (SSG) identifies patients with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) but rare SSGs may be missed in kidney biopsies. It is unknown whether alterations of unaffected glomeruli in patients with infrequent SSG can be detected by quantitative morphometrics.

Methods We determined SSG frequency and obtained quantitative morphometrics in glomeruli without a pathologic phenotype in large kidney sections of non-involved kidney tissue from 137 patients undergoing total nephrectomy. We used multivariate modelling to identify morphometrics independently associated with increasing frequency of SSG and Receiver Operator Curve (ROC) analysis to determine the ability of quantitative morphometrics to identify patients with FSGS. We used the geometric distribution to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of a needle biopsy to identify patients with FSGS.

Results In seventy-one patients (51.8%), at least one SSG was observed, and of those, 39 (54.9%) had an SSG lesion in less than 2% of all glomeruli (mean of 249 glomeruli per specimen). Increasing percent of SSG was independently associated with decreasing podocyte density and increasing mesangial index in multivariate modelling. For infrequent SSG lesions (<1% of glomeruli), kidney biopsy could miss FSGS diagnosis more than 74% of the time, and podocyte density had an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.77, and mesangial index, an AUC of 0.79 to identify patients with FSGS.

Conclusions More than half of patients had FSGS, although 30% had infrequent SSG. Quantitative morphometrics in glomeruli without pathology, such as podocyte density and mesangial index, identified patients with infrequent SSG and may serve as clinical markers to identify patients with FSGS.

  • kidney
  • morphological and microscopic findings
  • nephrology
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