TNF superfamilymember 13 (TNFSF13) has been identified as a susceptibility gene for IgA nephropathy in recent genetic studies. However, the role of TNFSF13 in the progression of IgA nephropathy remains unresolved. We evaluated two genetic polymorphisms (rs11552708 and rs3803800) and plasma levels of TNFSF13 in 637 patients with IgA nephropathy, and determined the risk of ESRD according to theses variable. Neither of the examined genetic polymorphisms associated with a clinical outcome of IgA nephropathy. However, high plasma levels of TNFSF13 increased the risk of ESRD. To explore the causal relationship and underlying mechanism, we treated B cells from patients (n=21) with or without recombinant human TNFSF13 (rhTNFSF13) and measured the expression of IgA and galactose-deficient IgA (GdIgA) using ELISA and flow cytometry. Treatment with rhTNFSF13 significantly increased the total IgA level among B cells, and TNFSF13 receptor blockade abrogated this increase. Furthermore, the absolute levels of GdIgA increased with rhTNFSF13 treatment, but the total IgA-normalized levels did not change. Both RNA sequencing and quantitative PCR results showed that rhTNFSF13 did not alter the expression of glycosyltransferase enzymes. These results suggest that high plasma TNFSF13 levels associate with a worse prognosis of IgA nephropathy through the relative increase in GdIgA levels.
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