Vancomycin nephrotoxicity: A comprehensive clinico-pathological study

Rajesh Nachiappa Ganesh, Angelina Edwards, Ziad El Zaatari, Lillian Gaber, Roberto Barrios, Luan D. Truong

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Introduction Vancomycin, a commonly prescribed antibiotic particularly in the setting of multi-drug resistant infections, is limited by its nephrotoxicity. Despite its common occurrence, much remains unknown on the clinicopathologic profile as well as the pathogenesis of vancomycin nephrotoxicity. Clinical studies included patients often with severe comorbidities and concomitant polypharmacy confounding the causal pathogenesis. Animal models cannot recapitulate this complex clinical situation. Kidney biopsy was not commonly performed. Methods To address this limitation, we studied 36 patients who had renal biopsies for acute kidney injury (AKI) for suspicion of vancomycin nephrotoxicity. Detailed renal biopsy evaluation, meticulous evaluation of clinical profiles, and up-to-date follow-up allowed for a diagnostic categorization of vancomycin nephrotoxicity (VNT) in 25 patients and absence of vancomycin nephrotoxicity (NO-VNT) in 11 patients. For careful comparison of these two groups, we proceeded to compile a clinicopathologic and morphologic profiles characteristic for each group. Results Patients with VNT had a characteristic clinical profile including a common clinical background, a high serum trough level of vancomycin, a rapidly developed and severe acute kidney injury, and a recovery of renal function often shortly after discontinuation of vancomycin. This clinical course was correlated with characteristic renal biopsy findings including acute tubulointerstitial nephritis of allergic type, frequent granulomatous inflammation, concomitant and pronounced acute tubular necrosis of nephrotoxic type, and vancomycin casts, in the absence of significant tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis. This clinico-pathologic profile was different from that of patients with NO-VNT, highlighting its role in the diagnosis, management and pathogenetic exploration of vancomycin nephrotoxicity Conclusion Vancomycin nephrotoxicity has a distinctive morphologic and clinical profile, which should facilitate diagnosis, guide treatment and prognostication, and confer pathogenetic insights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0295136
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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