Which light microscopy findings are characteristic of minimal-change disease (MCD)?

Updated: Jan 05, 2021
  • Author: Abeera Mansur, MD; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

In patients with MCD, the glomerulus is, by definition, normal or nearly so when examined with the light microscope; however, the precise limits of normal are not clearly defined. This creates difficulty in differentiating the appearance of minimal change with mild mesangial proliferation from a mesangial proliferative glomerulonephritis. Diagnosis can be even more difficult because, at the peak age of onset (approximately 3 y), the mesangial and epithelial cells are more prominent. In adult patients, diagnosis is made more challenging by superimposed arterionephrosclerosis secondary to hypertension.

In children with frequently relapsing MCD, some involuted glomeruli may be present. These lesions are small and sclerotic but retain their podocyte and parietal epithelial cell constituents. The presence of these glomeruli is related to the duration of the disease.

The most common tubular lesion is protein and lipid droplets in epithelial cells due to increased reabsorption. The presence of areas of tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis should raise the suspicion of FSGS.


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