Slowly progressive anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated renal vasculitis: clinico-pathological characterization and outcome.
BACKGROUND: Although rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis is the main renal phenotype of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV), slow renal disease progression is sometimes observed. These forms have been rarely discussed; we analysed their prevalence, clinico-pathological characteristics and outcome. METHODS: We screened patients with microscopic polyangiitis (MPA) and granulomatosis with polyangiitis followed at seven referral centres and selected those with estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) reduction <50% over a 6-month period preceding diagnosis. Data regarding patient features and response to treatment were retrieved. RESULTS: Of 856 patients, 41 (5%) had slowly progressive renal AAV. All had MPA and all but one was P-ANCA/myeloperoxidase (MPO) ANCA-positive. At diagnosis, the median age was 70 years [interquartile range (IQR) 64-78] and extra-renal manifestations were absent or subclinical (interstitial lung lesions in 10, 24%). The median (IQR) eGFR was 23 mL/min/1.73 m2 (15-35); six patients (15%) had started renal replacement therapy (RRT). All had proteinuria (median 1180 mg/24 h, IQR 670-2600) and micro-haematuria. Main histologic findings were extracapillary proliferation at chronic stages and glomerulosclerosis; following Berden's classification, 6/28 biopsies (21%) were 'focal', 1/28 (4%) 'crescentic', 9/28 (32%) 'mixed' and 12/28 (43%) 'sclerotic'. At last follow-up (median 32 months, IQR 12-52), 20/34 patients (59%) treated with immunosuppression had eGFR improvement >25% as compared with diagnosis, while 4/34 (12%) had started RRT. CONCLUSIONS: AAV may present with slow renal disease progression; this subset is hallmarked by advanced age at diagnosis, positive MPO-ANCA, subclinical interstitial lung lesions and chronic damage at kidney biopsy. Partial renal recovery may occur following immunosuppression.