Background The Columbia classification is widely used for diagnosis of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS). In practice, we occasionally encounter segmental glomerular lesions unclassified as Columbia classification. We analyzed the clinical implication of unclassified segmental lesions comparing with Columbia-classified FSGS. Methods A retrospective cohort study from 13 local hospitals in Japan. From 172 biopsy cases diagnosed with FSGS or minimal change disease (MCD)/FSGS spectrum with unclassified segmental lesions, adult patients with nephrotic syndrome who received immunosuppressive therapies were included. The cases are classified by pathology, i.e., typical FSGS lesions sufficiently classified into subgroups of Columbia classification: collapsing (COL), tip (TIP), cellular (CEL), perihilar (PH), and not otherwise specified (NOS), and unclassified by the Columbia classification into three subgroups: “endothelial damage,”; “simple attachment,”; and “minor cellular lesion,”. The response to immunosuppressive treatment and 30% decline of eGFR were compared. Results Among 48 eligible cases, all were Japanese, 34 were typical FSGS; 13 TIP, 15 CEL, 6 NOS, and no COL or PH cases. Fourteen were unclassified cases: endothelial damage (n = 6), simple attachment (n = 5), and minor cellular lesion (n = 3). The median age of overall patients was 60 years old and the median of eGFR and urinary protein creatinine ratio was 51.5 mL/min/1.73m2 and 7.35, respectively. They received similar therapeutic regimen. Kaplan-Meier analysis revealed no significant difference in treatment response between typical FSGS and unclassified cases. Evaluating among the subgroups, endothelial damage, simple attachment and minor cellular lesion showed similar treatment response to TIP or CEL. No significant difference was also observed in the 30% decline of eGFR. Conclusions Japanese adult patients with nephrotic syndrome showing unclassified segmental lesions as Columbia classification may be equivalent clinical impact as Columbia classification of FSGS.
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