Sera of 25 patients with membraneous glomerulonephritis (MGN), 16 with membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) and 54 with IgA glomerulonephritis (IgA GN) were studied for complement-binding antibodies to herpes simplex virus (HSV), cytomegalovirus (CMV) and antibodies to various Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated antigens, as also for the titres of these antibodies. The sera of 220 normal individuals served as controls, 120 controls being used for each case. Anti-HSV titres of ≧1:64 were found to occur in the sera of all three GN groups in a higher proportion than in those of the controls. This was also valid for the complement-binding antibodies to CM, although here the differences were not invariably significant. IgA antibodies reacting with EBV capside antigen (EBVCA) were likewise of statistically increased frequency in IgA GN, as also in MPGN, and in these two groups the geometric mean of the reciprocal value of the IgA antibody titres was also higher than either in the controls or in MGN. The results of the studies carried out within 6 months after onset of renal disease point to an EBV infection, either fresh or having taken place in the recent past, in 20 cases. These data are compatible with a direct or indirect role of EBV in the production and/or persistence of certain types of GN. The high anti-HSV and CMV titres suggest that in a number of patients with renal disease the immune responses to certain types of the HSV group may be abnormal.
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