De novo minimal change disease associated with reversible post-transplant nephrotic syndrome. A report of five cases and review of literature

Alireza A. Zafarmand, Elzbieta Baranowska-Daca, Peter D.C. Ly, Chun C. Tsao, Yeong Jin Choi, Wadi N. Suki, Luan Truong

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25 Scopus citations


Nephrotic syndrome (NS) is frequent in renal transplant recipients and may be related to a large variety of glomerular lesions. In some of these cases, the transplant biopsy showed no significant glomerular changes and the NS was reversible, but the primary renal disease was not minimal change disease (MCD), suggesting that MCD may develop de novo in renal transplant setting. Knowledge of this entity, however, is limited. Among 67 cases of post-transplant NS encountered in a 12-yr period, five were found to be associated with de novo MCD. A critical review of the literature revealed nine additional cases of de novo MCD. The data from these 14 cases show that patients with de novo MCD had a large variety of primary renal diseases but MCD or focal segmental glomerulosclerosis was not among them. Eight of the 14 transplanted kidneys (60%) were from living related donors, suggesting this as a risk factor. Nephrotic range proteinuria (3-76 g/d) developed immediately or shortly after transplantation (within 4 months for all reported cases, except for one at 24 months). The serum creatinine when NS was first diagnosed was normal or mildly elevated, but acute renal failure occurred in three patients. On biopsy, the glomeruli were normal or, more frequently, displayed mild, focal segmental mesangial sclerosis, hypercellularity, deposition of IgM/C3, or accumulation of mononuclear inflammatory cells in some glomerular capillaries. The tubulointerstitial compartment was normal in cases with normal renal function; displayed mild acute and/or chronic rejection that correlated with a mildly elevated serum creatinine; or showed acute changes including acute rejection, acute tubular necrosis, or acute cyclosporin A toxicity, which accounted for both acute renal failure at presentation and its subsequent reversibility. Under various treatments, including increased steroids, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and angiotensin receptor blockers, sustained remission of NS was achieved in 13 cases, within a year (0.5-12 months) in 10 and later (24, 34 and 98 months, respectively) in three. In the remaining case, the patient died of septic shock 2 months after transplantation. After remission of the NS, the grafts functioned well without or with minimal proteinuria for several years. De novo MCD has characteristic clinical and pathologic features. It represents an important but hitherto underemphasized cause of post-transplant NS, which is potentially reversible and does not adversely affect the renal transplants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Minimal change disease
  • Nephrotic syndrome
  • Renal biopsy
  • Renal transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Immunology


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