A case report of pre-eclampsia-like endothelial injury in the kidney of an 85-year-old man treated with ibrutinib


Li A., Ambruso S. L. , Oto Ö. A. , Barry M., Edelstein C. L.

BMC NEPHROLOGY, vol.23, no.1, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12882-022-02873-w
  • Journal Name: BMC NEPHROLOGY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: Endothelial injury, Ibrutinib, Acute kidney injury, Hypertension, Endothelial swelling, Pre-eclampsia, CHRONIC LYMPHOCYTIC-LEUKEMIA, TYROSINE KINASE INHIBITOR, GROWTH-FACTOR, RENAL INVOLVEMENT, B-CELLS, GLOMERULONEPHRITIS, CRYOGLOBULINEMIA, HYPERTENSION, PROTEINURIA, EXPRESSION

Abstract

Background Glomerular endotheliosis is the pathognomonic glomerular lesion in pre-eclampsia that has also been described in those taking tyrosine kinase inhibitors for cancer treatment. Ibrutinib is a Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitor used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). We report the first known case of glomerular endotheliosis on kidney biopsy in a patient on ibrutinib monotherapy. Case presentation The patient presented with acute on chronic kidney disease, proteinuria, low C3 and C4 and a high rheumatoid factor titer. A kidney biopsy was performed to confirm a preliminary diagnosis of membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN), the most common glomerular disease in patients with CLL. Unexpectedly, the kidney biopsy showed pre-eclampsia-like lesions on light and electron microscopy: occlusion of glomerular peripheral capillary lumens by swollen reactive endothelial cells. Findings of glomerulonephritis were not seen, and there were no specific glomerular immune deposits by immunofluorescence or electron microscopy. Conclusions CLL is known to cause glomerular lesions, mainly MPGN. There is increasing evidence that ibrutinib, a major treatment for CLL, can cause kidney disease, but the precise pathology is not characterized. We present a patient with CLL on ibrutinib with signs of glomerular endotheliosis. Based on the absence of CLL-induced kidney pathologies typically seen on the kidney biopsy and the non-selectivity of ibrutinib, we attributed the glomerular endotheliosis to ibrutinib. In pre-eclampsia, increased soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1 (sFlt1) levels induce endothelial dysfunction by decreasing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Ibrutinib has been demonstrated to have non-selective tyrosine kinase inhibition, including inhibition of VEGF receptor (VEGFR) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). VEGFR and EGFR inhibitors have recently been described in the literature to cause hypertension, proteinuria, and glomerular endotheliosis. Kidney biopsy should be performed in CLL patients on ibrutinib that present with acute kidney injury (AKI) or proteinuria to determine whether the clinical picture is attributable to the disease itself or a complication of the therapy.