The International Society of Nephrology/Renal Pathology Society (ISN/RPS) classification represents the gold standard for the histological evaluation of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) nephritis  (full text). A repeat biopsy (RB) might be an important tool to provide information on long term renal outcome and optimal therapy. Aims of this study were to evaluate the use of ISN/RPS classification and the role of RB in routine clinical practice .
A total number of 142 patients with SLE nephritis and with adequate reference and RB samples were included in this multicentric retrospective study. A meticulous histological examination (Figure 1) was centrally performed on first and RB and compared to clinical variables (Figure 2) and follow-up data (Figure 3).
Morphological features of the ISN/RPS classification: at first and RB, significant differences were observed between segmental classes (III, IV-S) and Class IV-G in mesangial proliferation, wire loops and tuft necrosis. Clinical features and ISN/RPS classification: the correlation between serum creatinine, proteinuria, blood pressure levels and histological classes at first and RB demonstrated more severe renal disease in Class IV-G, both at first and RB. Agreement between ISN/RPS classification at first and RB: 40.8% of patients changed the histological class. Fifty per cent of Class II (mild mesangial form) were reclassified as Class IV-G at RB, whereas 18.9% of Class IV-G were reclassified as Class II. The transition among segmental (III/IV-S) and mesangial forms (II/IV-G) was extremely rare. The comparison between the clinical parameters at the final follow-up and the ISN/RPS classification confirmed that the trend of serum creatinine and proteinuria between the different classes was better described at the RB (higher in Class IV-G) than on the first biopsy.
The histopathological data suggest that morphological differences between segmental and global forms do exist, possibly due to different pathogenetic mechanisms. An RB strategy could provide additional information on long-term renal outcomes. A strategy of protocol biopsies could be useful in perspective future trials to better understand the therapeutic response and the natural history of this disease.