Kidney Biopsy Findings in Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or After COVID-19 Vaccination

CoV-Kidney Investigators*, Martin Nitschke


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)613-625
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Coronavirus related work

  • Research on SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19


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