Background: Corticosteroids can be used to treat IgA nephropathy (IgAN). However, responsiveness to these drugs is highly variable and unpredictable. Corticosteroids act by binding glucocorticoid receptors (GCRs). Therefore, we evaluated the association between GCR expression and responsiveness to corticosteroid treatment in IgAN. Methods: We screened 78 IgAN patients receiving steroid treatment between 2010 and 2016. Of these, 33 patients met study inclusion criteria. Glomerular GCR expression was assessed by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Complete remission (CR) and partial remission (PR) were defined as a spot urine protein-to-creatinine ratio (UPCR) of <0.3 g/g and a ≥50% reduction of proteinuria from baseline along with UPCR of ≥0.3 g/g, respectively. Disease progression was defined as a ≥30% decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) from baseline. Results: The mean age of study patients was 43.9 ± 11.6 years (25 males and 8 females). All 33 patients responded to steroid treatment; CR and PR occurred in 14 (42.4%) and 18 (54.5%) patients, respectively. One patient did not achieve PR, but proteinuria was decreased after treatment. There were no significant differences in baseline eGFR and proteinuria between CR and non-CR groups. GCR mRNA expression was significantly higher in the CR group compared to that in the non-CR group. Immunohistochemistry confirmed higher GCR expression in the CR group. During a median follow-up of 20.6 months, 1 (7.1%) patient in the CR group had disease progression, as compared to 8 (42.1%) patients in non-CR group (p = 0.03). Conclusion: This study suggests that responsiveness to corticosteroid may differ depending on the degree of glomerular GCR expression in IgAN.
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