Kidney biopsy findings in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection or after COVID-19 vaccination.
Background: Emerging case series described a temporal association between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination and de novo or relapsing kidney diseases. We aimed to further understand vaccination- and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-associated kidney diseases.
Methods: We present findings from native kidney biopsies of patients recently vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 ( n =27) and those with COVID-19 ( n =15), reviewed at a single German center. Diagnoses were compared among all native kidney biopsies ( n =10,206) obtained between the prepandemic (2019), pandemic (2020), and vaccination periods (2021) to determine whether there was an increase in kidney diseases in the observed periods.
Results: Biopsy indication was increased serum creatinine and/or new-onset proteinuria. Glomerulopathies (20/27, 74%) were more common than tubulointerstitial diseases in postvaccination patients, with necrotizing GN (8/27, 30%) and primary podocytopathies and other GN types (6/27, 22% each) the most common forms. Acute tubular injury was the most common kidney disease in patients with COVID-19, followed by thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA) and necrotizing GN. The postvaccination and COVID-19 infection groups had similar kidney function recovery rates (69% and 73%, respectively). Furthermore, the frequencies of necrotizing GN, pauci-immune GN, TMA, or primary podocytopathies at our center did not increase between 2019 and 2021.
Conclusions: We observed differences in entity frequencies between the SARS-CoV-2 vaccination or COVID-19 groups, with glomerulopathies being more common in patients after vaccination and tubulointerstitial diseases in patients with COVID-19. Cases of TMA were observed only in the COVID-19 group. We detected no increase in the frequency of necrotizing GN, TMA, or podocytopathies between 2019 and 2021.
Clinical trial registry name and registration number: Kidney Histopathology After COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 Vaccination, NCT05043168.