Characterization of interstitial infiltrates in MPO and PR3 anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody glomerulonephritis



It has been recognized that T cells have a pathogenic role in anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody- (ANCA) associated vasculitis, in addition to being dominant cells in the interstitium in ANCA glomerulonephritis (GN). Given there are differences in renal outcomes based on ANCA type, we sought to characterize the interstitial infiltrate in ANCA GN to determine differences in relation to ANCA type and renal function.


Immunohistochemistry stains for CD3, CD4, CD20, C4d and FOXP3 were done in renal biopsies of patients with ANCA GN. Light microscopy was used to determine the percentage of cortical interstitium containing positive cells. Demographics, ANCA type and entry eGFR were recorded. The level of staining was compared between ANCA type and entry eGFR using Wilcoxon rank-sum test.


Renal biopsies of 16 patients with MPO and 14 with PR3 ANCA GN were studied. CD3 cells were the predominant cells, with all biopsies staining positive for CD4 and FOXP3. C4d staining was negative in all biopsies, with no significant difference in staining between MPO and PR3 groups for any of the identified cell types. However, regardless of ANCA type, FOXP3 staining was significantly higher in patients with baseline GFR < 10 compared with GFR > 10 mL/min/1.73 m2(mean 7.54, SD 6.6 versus mean 2.67, SD 3.6; p = 0.04).


These data confirm the role of T cells in ANCA GN and demonstrate no differences in interstitial T and B cell infiltrates between PR3 and MPO ANCA GN. Higher FOXP3 signal associates with lower renal function, suggesting a role for regulatory T cells. Further characterization of this T cell subset should be explored in future studies.