The nature of the glomerular-bound antibody and the putative antigen was investigated in one of the patients with sickle cell disease and immune deposit membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis by immunohistologic and glomerular antibody elution. Renal proximal tubular epithelial antigen was localized in association with immunoglobulins G (IgG), M (IgM), Clq fraction of the first component of complement (Clq) and the third component of complement (C3) in a granular pattern along the glomerular basement membrane of the patient's kidney. IgG and IgM were eluted from glomeruli. These immunoglobulins fixed to the proximal tubules of normal human kidney by direct immunofluorescence. This localization was abolished by absorption of the eluted immunoglobulins with renal tubular epithelial (RTE) antigen. The IgG eluted from the glomeruli blocked the fixation of rabbit anti-RTE antigen to normal proximal tubular brush border. These studies suggest that the nephritis in this patient was due to deposition of complexes of RTE antigen and specific antibody. An autologous immune complex nephritis may develop in some patients with sickle cell anemia secondary to RTE antigen released possibly after renal ischemia or some other phenomenon causing renal tubular damage.
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