Association of COVID-19 Versus COVID-19 Vaccination With Kidney Function and Disease Activity in Primary Glomerular Disease: A Report of the Cure Glomerulonephropathy Study

Cure Glomerulonephropathy (CureGN) Study Consortium, Vikas Dharnidharka, Joseph Gaut, Kaye Brathwaite

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Abstract

Rationale & Objective: Patients with glomerular disease (GN) may be at increased risk of severe COVID-19, yet concerns over vaccines causing disease relapse may lead to vaccine hesitancy. We examined the associations of COVID-19 with longitudinal kidney function and proteinuria and compared these with similar associations with COVID-19 vaccination. Study Design: Observational cohort study from July 1, 2021, to January 1, 2023. Setting & Participants: A prospective observational study network of 71 centers from North America and Europe (CureGN) with children and adults with primary minimal change disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, membranous nephropathy, or IgA nephropathy. Exposure: COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination. Outcome: Repeated measure of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR); recurrent time-to-event outcome of GN disease worsening as defined by doubling of the urinary protein-creatinine ratio (UPCR) to at least 1.5 g/g or increase in dipstick urine protein by 2 ordinal levels to 3+ (300 mg/dL) or above. Analytical Approach: Interrupted time series analysis for eGFR. Prognostic matched sequential stratification recurrent event analysis for GN disease worsening. Results: Among 2,055 participants, 722 (35%) reported COVID-19 infection; of these, 92 (13%) were hospitalized, and 3 died (<1%). The eGFR slope before COVID-19 infection was −1.40 mL/min/1.73 m2 (± 0.29 SD); within 6 months after COVID-19 infection, the eGFR slope was −4.26 mL/min/1.73 m2 (± 3.02 SD), which was not significantly different (P = 0.34). COVID-19 was associated with increased risk of worsening GN disease activity (HR, 1.35 [95% CI, 1.01-1.80]). Vaccination was not associated with a change in eGFR (−1.34 mL/min/1.73 m2 ± 0.15 SD vs −2.16 mL/min/1.73 m2 ± 1.74 SD; P = 0.6) or subsequent GN disease worsening (HR 1.02 [95% CI, 0.79-1.33]) in this cohort. Limitations: Infrequent or short follow-up. Conclusions: Among patients with primary GN, COVID-19 infection was severe for 1 in 8 cases and was associated with subsequent worsening of GN disease activity, as defined by proteinuria. By contrast, vaccination against COVID-19 was not associated with change in disease activity or kidney function decline. These results support COVID-19 vaccination for patients with GN. Plain-Language Summary: In this cohort study of 2,055 patients with minimal change disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, membranous nephropathy, or IgA nephropathy, COVID-19 resulted in hospitalization or death for 1 in 8 cases and was associated with a 35% increase in risk for worsening proteinuria. By contrast, vaccination did not appear to adversely affect kidney function or proteinuria. Our data support vaccination for COVID-19 in patients with glomerular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-46
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Kidney Diseases
Volume83
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 vaccines
  • IgA glomerulonephritis
  • focal segmental glomerulosclerosis
  • glomerular filtration rate
  • glomerulonephritis
  • lipoid nephrosis
  • membranous glomerulonephritis
  • vaccination

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