Saudi Journal of Kidney Diseases and Transplantation

: 2007  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 556--564

Prevalence and Clinical Findings of Biopsy-Proven Glomerulonephritidis in Iran

Afsoon Emami Naini1, Ali Amini Harandi1, Shahrzad Ossareh2, Ahad Ghods2, Bahar Bastani3,  
1 Division of Nephrology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Isfahan, Iran
2 Division of Nephrology, Iran University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Tehran, Iran
3 Division of Nephrology, Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Correspondence Address:
Afsoon Emami Naini
Department of Nephrology, Noor Hospital, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan


Epidemiological data of renal diseases is population-based and have great geographic variability. Due to the lack of a national renal data registry system, there is no information on the prevalence rate, and clinical and laboratory features of various glomerulo­nephritidis (GNs) in Iran. In a retrospective cross sectional study, we analyzed 462 adult renal biopsies in Tehran, Iran. We determined the prevalence rate and the frequency of different clinical and laboratory findings in patients with different GNs. We also compared our results with the reports from other countries. There were 267 (57.8%) males and 195 (42.2%) females. The mean (± SD) age was 33.6 ± 15.7 (range, 13-75) years. A total of 55 biopsies, which had revealed pathologies other than GNs, were excluded. Among the remaining 407 biopsies, membranous glomerulopathy (MGN) was the most common GN (23.6%), followed by IgAN (13.5%), membranoproliferative GN (MPGN) (11.5%), systemic lupus nephritis (SLE-GN) (10.6%), focal and segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) (10.3%), and minimal change disease (MCD) (9.8%). Our study shows that MGN is the most common form of GN, followed by IgAN, MPGN, SLE­GN, FSGS and MCD in adult patients in Iran. A multi-center study with a larger sample size is needed for more comprehensive data in Iranian population.

How to cite this article:
Naini AE, Harandi AA, Ossareh S, Ghods A, Bastani B. Prevalence and Clinical Findings of Biopsy-Proven Glomerulonephritidis in Iran.Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl 2007;18:556-564

How to cite this URL:
Naini AE, Harandi AA, Ossareh S, Ghods A, Bastani B. Prevalence and Clinical Findings of Biopsy-Proven Glomerulonephritidis in Iran. Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl [serial online] 2007 [cited 2021 Jan 16 ];18:556-564
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Glomerulonephritidis (GNs) remain the third most common cause of end-stage renal failure. [1] Epidemiological data of renal diseases is population-based and has great variability according to the geographic area, socioeconomic condition, race, indication for biopsy, and differences in genetic susceptibility and envi­ronmental exposure.[2],[3],[4],[5] Due to the lack of a nationwide renal data registry system, there is no information on the frequency of different GNs in Iran. Furthermore, the great varia­bility of clinical manifestations confounds the determination of a definitive diagnosis based on the clinical features alone, [6] and thus, kidney biopsy remains the gold standard test for the diagnosis of GNs. However, this procedure is invasive, has some associated morbidity, and in some circumstances may be contraindi­cated. Due to the great variety of glomerular diseases the approach to these patients heavily relies on the clinical, laboratory and pathologic findings.[6] In this study we ana­lyzed the clinical and laboratory findings of 407 adult patients whose native kidney biop­sies had revealed different forms of GNs, over a 3-year period in Tehran, Iran. We also com­pare our results with the reports from other countries.

 Materials and Methods

In a retrospective cross sectional study, we analyzed 462 renal biopsies performed in Tehran, Iran. The biopsies had been per­formed in an adult referral university medical center. The indications for renal biopsy were: idiopathic nephrotic syndrome; rapidly prog­ressive renal failure; evaluation and follow­up for collagen diseases, predominantly SLE with proteinuria; abnormal urine sediment or reduced renal function; glomerular protei­nuria of unknown etiology accompanied by abnormal urine sediment or persistent pro­teinuria of >1 gm/day; persistent or recurrent glomerular hematuria with proteinuria more than 500 mg/day or acute renal failure (ARF) of unknown etiology with normal kidney size and no obstruction. [7]

We determined the frequency of different clinical and laboratory findings in these pa­tients. Renal biopsies were processed for light and immunofluorescence microscopy in all specimens. In all cases, sections were stained with Hematoxylin and Eosin (H and E), Masson's trichrome, periodic acid-Schiff (PAS), and Silver Jone's stain.

Clinical information was obtained from the biopsy requisition forms, and by reviewing the patients' medical records. All data rela­ted to the final diagnosis, age, sex, clinical presentation, serum levels of cholesterol, triglyceride, creatinine and complements (C3, C4 and CH50), and the presence of micros­copic hematuria, hypertension (systemic blood pressure >140/90 mm Hg), and proteinuria were recorded.

The clinical presentations were classified as the nephrotic syndrome (>3.5 grams protei­nuria), nephritic syndrome (active urinary se­diment with/without azotemia), ARF, chronic renal failure (CRF, azotemia of >3 months duration), asymptomatic urinary abnormality (AUA), and rapidly progressive GN (RPGN, doubling of serum creatinine over a 3 months period). [8] Hypertriglyceridemia and hypercho­lesterolemia were considered if the plasma concentrations were > 200 mg/dl.

 Statistical analysis

Analysis was performed using the statistical package of social science (SPSS)­version 10. Mean ± SD values of laboratory data were compared using ANOVA, between different clinicopathological diagnoses. P 1.4 mg/dl, at the time of presen­tation, is shown in [Table 4]. There was no significant difference in triglyceride concen­trations (p=0.27) among different GNs; how­ever, the difference was significant in regard to serum cholesterol, and creatinine concen­trations (p [1],[6] The male : female ratio has been reported as 2:1, with the peak incidence being in the fourth and fifth decades of life. Clinical manifestations of MGN show significant geographic variation. Patients from Australia and Japan have a lower frequency of the nephrotic syndrome, as compared to patients from Europe or North America.[6] Microscopic hematuria and hyper­tension (HTN) have been reported in 30­-50% of the patients at presentation.[1],[6],[9] In our series, the mean age of patients with MGN was 43 years, M:F ratio was 1.5:1, there was a high prevalence of the nephrotic syndrome (84.5%) and hyperlipidemia (hyper­triglyceridemia 64.6% and hypercholestero­lemia 88.5%) at presentation. The high pre­valence of the nephrotic syndrome and azo­temia in our series may be due to increased severity of the disease among patients seen in our hospital which is a referral center for renal disease in Tehran, Iran. The other clini­cal manifestations were HTN (38.5%), mic­roscopic hematuria (13.5%), and serum crea­tinine >1.4 mg/dl (15.6%). The serum com­plement levels were reduced in only 5% of the patients.

IgAN is now regarded as the most common form of GN in the world.[6],[10],[11] Its prevalence rate varies in different geographic regions, [8] it is most prevalent in Asia (30-40%) and rela­tively less prevalent in Europe (20%) and North America (10%).[10],[11] Its incidence varies from two per 10,000 people in France and Germany to between 2.0 and 4.8% of the population in Singapore.[6],[11] The M:F ratio has been reported to be 2:1. [6] Around 30-40% of these patients present with microscopic hematuria. HTN has been reported in only 8% of the patients at the time of presen­tation. [11] IgAN was the second most common GN, after MGN, in our series. The lower prevalence rate of IgAN in our series may be due to our higher threshold for renal biopsy, i.e., exclusion of patients with isolated hema­turia and/or proteinuria of 1.4 mg/dl, at the time of renal biopsy.

FSGS comprises 2 to 41% of the primary GNs in the world. [2] In the past 20 years, the prevalence of primary FSGS has risen from [6]

FSGS comprises 6-15% of GNs in Europe and 2-11% of GNs in Asia. [2] FSGS is slightly more common in males (M:F ratio, 1.4:1), with microscopic hematuria occurring in over one half of the patients, and HTN in one third of the patients at presentation. [6]

In a report by Cattran, half of the adult pa­tients had the nephrotic syndrome, a third had microscopic hematuria, and 35% had HTN at presentation. [1] In our series, mean age at pre­sentation was 30.4 years, males were almost twice the females, mean protein excretion rate was 5.8 gm/24 hours with 57% of patients presenting with the nephrotic syndrome, 60% had HTN, 19% had microscopic hematuria, 69% hypercholesterolemia, 55% had hyper­triglyceridemia and 55% had serum creatinine >1.4 mg/dl at the time of presentation.

MCD is responsible for 10-15% of the pri­mary the nephrotic syndromes in adults. [6] It has a variable geographic distribution, being more common in Asia than North America or Europe, [12] and is equally distributed between the two sexes. [6] In our series, MCD comprised 9.8% of the biopsies. It was slightly more prevalent among males (M:F, 1.3:1), with an average age at presentation of 35 years, mean protein excretion rate of 7.8 gm/24 hours. In our patients, 95% presented with the nephrotic syndrome, 25% had HTN, 12.5% micros­copic hematuria, 87.5% hypercholestero­lemia, and 17.5% had serum creatinine >1.4 mg/dl at the time of presentation.

Recent studies have focused on the signi­ficance of epidemiologic and clinical features of SLE-GN, and report a F:M ratio of 8­13:1. [13] The serum complements are usually decreased in the active phase, and often decline before clinical flare up. [13] In our series, SLE-GN accounted for 10.6% of all GNs; the patients were the youngest (mean age, 24.4 years) among all GNs, there were 10 times more females than males, 65% pre­sented with the nephrotic syndrome, and only 21% presented with a nephritic picture. At the time of biopsy, 53.5% of our patients had HTN, 35% had microscopic hematuria, around two thirds had hyperlipidemia, 51% had serum creatinine >1.4 mg/dl, and around 80% had reduced serum complement levels.

MPGN accounts for a wide range (2% to 49%; average, 12.5%) of GNs world wide; 50% of the patients present with the nephrotic syndrome, and 30% present with mild and asymptomatic proteinuria. [6] In our series, MPGN accounted for 11.5% of all GNs; average age was 28.6 years, there were slightly more males (M:F ratio, 1.2:1), and almost all patients presented with proteinuria (average of 5.5 gm/day). At presentation, 66% of our patients had the nephrotic syn­drome, 13% had a nephritic picture, 60% were hypertensive, 34% had microscopic hematuria, 72.5% were hypercholesterolemic, 57.5% had elevated serum creatinine >1.4 mg/dL, and around one half of our patients were hypocomplementemic. In Iran, the pre­valence rate of hepatitis B has been reported to be between 1.1% and 9% in different pro­vinces, [14],[15] and there has been ten-time higher incidence of hepatitis C among MPGN patients than in normal population. [16] Unfor­tunately, we do not have any information on the status of hepatitis B or C of the MGN or MPGN patients in the present study.

The frequency of different GNs in other geographic regions of the world is presented in table 5. [17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33] Unfortunately, many reports lack detailed information about clinical and laboratory indices. IgAN was the most common GN reported in Australia, France, Japan, Italy, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia. FSGS was the most common GN in Brazil, Zaire, USA, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. MPGN was the most common GN reported in Moscow and China. MGN, which is the most common GN in our series, has been reported as the most common GN in United Arab Emirates, and Macedonia, and is among the top in the USA.

Recent data point to genetic, biologic, and socioeconomic factors that may be contribu­ting to these findings. [34] The contribution of clinical epidemiology to evidence-based nephrology is not limited to randomized controlled trials. [35] Epidemiological studies on the prevalence rate, and clinical and labo­ratory findings can lead to a higher index of suspicion to a particular diagnosis that may lead to timely appropriate therapeutic intervention. Whether empiric epidemiologic data can be used in treating individual patients, and how, remains controversial. Moreover, like other fields in medical research, epidemiology has some metho­dological limitations that must be taken into account. [35]

Our study has several shortcomings. We did not elaborate on the remaining variants of GNs, sub-types of MPGN (I or II), and asso­ciated conditions such as malignancy or drug consumption. Further studies with larger sam­ple size, and survival analysis of patients are needed for better understanding of the epi­demiologic features of GNs in the Iranian population.


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