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Open Access Research article

Picking transplant glomerulopathy out of the CAN: evidence from a clinico-pathological evaluation

Qiquan Sun, Xianghua Huang, Song Jiang, Caihong Zeng and Zhihong Liu*

Author Affiliations

Research Institute of Nephrology, Jinling Hospital, Nanjing University School of Medicine, Nanjing, 210002, China

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BMC Nephrology 2012, 13:128  doi:10.1186/1471-2369-13-128

Published: 28 September 2012



Since the term chronic allograft nephropathy (CAN) was removed from the Banff scheme in 2005, transplant glomerulopathy (TG) has been regarded as a clinicopathological entity that is one of the major causes of graft loss. To assess the distinction between CAN and TG, we performed a comprehensive evaluation comparing TG with traditional CAN.


We compared the clinicopathological features of 43 cases of TG with 43 matched cases of non-TG CAN (non-TG group) after renal transplantation. TG was diagnosed by light microscopy based on the double contours of the glomerular basement membranes, and the Banff 97 classification system was used to score TG severity (cg0-3).


Compared to the control group, we found a significantly higher incidence of positivity for human leukocyte antigen class-I and II antibodies, a higher incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, and poorer graft survival in TG patients. Clinically, TG was associated with a higher prevalence of proteinuria, hematuria, anaemia and hypoalbuminemia. Histologically, TG strongly correlated with antibody related microcirculatory injuries, including glomerulitis, peritubular capillaritis and peritubular capillary (PTC) C4d deposition. Interestingly, the TG patients showed a significantly higher incidence of IgA deposition than the control patients. C4d-positive TG was correlated with higher TG and PTC scores, and PTC C4d deposition was correlated with a more rapid progression to graft dysfunction. TG accompanied by HCV infection was associated with heavier proteinuria, higher TG and C4d scores, and poorer graft survival.


TG presents clinicopathological features that are distinct from non-TG cases and leads to poorer outcomes. PTC C4d deposition is related to a more rapid progression to graft loss, suggesting ongoing antibody reactivity. HCV-positive TG is a more severe sub-entity, that requires further investigation.

Antibody-mediated injury; Chronic allograft nephropathy; Hepatitis C virus; Transplant glomerulopathy