Recurrence of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (rFSGS) after kidney transplantation is a cause of accelerated graft loss. To evaluate pathogenic antibodies (Abs) in rFSGS, we processed 141 serum samples from 64 patients with and without primary rFSGS and 34 non-FSGS control patients transplanted at four hospitals. We screened about 9000 antigens in pretransplant sera and selected 10 Abs targeting glomerular antigens for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) validation. A panel of seven Abs (CD40, PTPRO, CGB5, FAS, P2RY11, SNRPB2, and APOL2) could predict posttransplant FSGS recurrence with 92% accuracy. Pretransplant elevation of anti-CD40 Ab alone had the best correlation (78% accuracy) with rFSGS risk after transplantation. Epitope mapping of CD40 with customized peptide arrays and rFSGS sera demonstrated altered immunogenicity of the extracellular CD40 domain in rFSGS. Immunohistochemistry of CD40 demonstrated a differential expression in FSGS compared to non-FSGS controls. Anti-CD40 Abs purified from rFSGS patients were particularly pathogenic in human podocyte cultures. Injection of anti-CD40/rFSGS Ab enhanced suPAR (soluble urokinase receptor)-mediated proteinuria in wild-type mice, yet no sensitizing effect was noted in mice deficient in CD40 or in wild-type mice that received blocking Ab to CD40. In conclusion, a panel of seven Abs can help identify primary FSGS patients at high risk of recurrence before transplantation. Intrarenal CD40 (and possibly other specific glomerular antigens) is an important contributor to FSGS disease pathogenesis. Human trials of anti-CD40 therapies are warranted to evaluate their efficacy for preventing rFSGS and improving graft survival.
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