Primary IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease) is characterized by renal deposits of IgA, the origin of which is still unknown. However, several clinical and biological findings suggest that these immunoglobulins might have a mucosal origin, and that such patients should present mucosal abnormalities. This paper reports the results of the immunohistomorphometrical analysis of tonsillar plasma cells from seven patients suffering from Berger's disease and seven controls also with recurrent tonsillitis. IgG, IgA, and IgM-secreting cells were enumerated after immunofluorescent staining of serial frozen-cut sections from 20 tonsils. In controls, a predominance of the IgG-secreting population, similar to this reported in the literature was observed (65% of IgG secreting cells and 29% of IgA plasma cells), while an inversion in the patients' plasma cells percentages was evidenced (IgG:37%, IgA:56%). This increment in the IgA population was paralleled by an augmentation of the number of dimeric IgA-secreting cells (75% of IgA plasma cells), stained both for cytoplasmic IgA and J chain. In controls, the latter cells were in similar proportions as previously reported by others (45% of IgA plasma cells). These results demonstrate an imbalance in the IgA-producing system of patients with Berger's disease, which is in keeping with the hypothesis favoring a mucosal origin for the mesangial IgA present in their kidneys.
M C Bene, G Faure, B Hurault de Ligny, M Kessler, J Duheille