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  Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 26-28

Granulomatous interstitial nephritis – A series of six cases

1 Department of Pathology, IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Department of Nephrology, IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission23-Nov-2018
Date of Acceptance02-Feb-2019
Date of Web Publication27-Dec-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Moumita Sengupta
244 AJC Bose Road, Kolkata - 700 020, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijn.IJN_364_18

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Granulomatous interstitial nephritis is an uncommon variant accounting for about 6% of all tubulointerstitial nephritis. The etiology can be drugs such as antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and infections such as tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and fungal infections. Renal biopsy remains the gold standard for establishing the diagnosis. Here, we present a series of six cases of granulomatous interstitial nephritis, of which two cases were associated with lupus nephritis and another two cases with crescentic glomerulonephritis. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and mesangiosclerosis with chronic tubulointerstitial nephritis were detected in the rest of the cases. Most of the patients presented with features of nephrotic syndrome. Urine analysis showed albuminuria in all cases. In renal biopsy, interstitial epithelioid cell granuloma was a constant feature along with which there were foci of necrosis and moderate fibrosis in few cases. But none of our cases had any relevant history of prolonged drug intake. Tuberculosis and fungal infections were also ruled out. Thereby in this case series, we subgroup all the cases into two category four cases associated with granulomatous nephritis and two cases with idiopathic granulomatous nephritis.

Keywords: Granulomatous interstitial nephritis, idiopathic, native kidney biopsy

How to cite this article:
Karmakar S, Basu K, Sengupta M, Sircar D, Roychowdhury A. Granulomatous interstitial nephritis – A series of six cases. Indian J Nephrol 2020;30:26-8

How to cite this URL:
Karmakar S, Basu K, Sengupta M, Sircar D, Roychowdhury A. Granulomatous interstitial nephritis – A series of six cases. Indian J Nephrol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Jan 22];30:26-8. Available from:

  Background Top

Tubulointerstitial nephritis can occur due to varied reasons, with granulomatous interstitial nephritis (GIN) being one of the type. Due to its rarity, various literatures reported this entity. Among the known causes of GIN, drug toxicity plays a crucial role, for example, sulfonamides, vancomycin, ciprofloxacin, and fluoroquinolones. Other reported causes are tuberculosis (TB), sarcoidosis, granulomatous vasculitis, gout, and so on. Here, we present six cases of GIN with varied clinical scenario.

  Case Series Top

A total of six cases of GIN were diagnosed over 6 months. Among which four cases were female and two cases were male. Their ages ranged from 14 to 65 years. Out of these six cases, two had lupus nephritis and two pauci-immune crescentic glomerulonephritis. The remaining two cases showed focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) and mesangiosclerosis with chronic tubulointerstitial nephritis. The clinicopathological features of the cases are summarized in [Table 1].
Table 1: Clinicopathological features of six cases of granulomatous interstitial nephritis (n=6)

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Most of the patients presented with features of adult onset nephrotic syndrome. Two of which showed active sediment as well. One of them was a known case of systemic lupus erythematosus, who presented with classical extrarenal features. One patient had some associated features such as fever, cough, and signs of infection. No history of a specific drug intake over a prolonged period was found. Serum creatinine, urinary albumin, antinuclear antibody (ANA), MPO antineutrophilic antibody (ANCA), PR3 ANCA, and complement proteins were monitored in each case. Serum creatinine was found to be high in most of the cases (66%), among which two cases showed rapidly progressive renal failure. Urinary albumin was raised in each case. Urinary red blood cell was found to be positive in two cases. ANA level was found to be high in two cases, whereas we also got a case with MPO ANCA positivity. In each case, we excluded TB by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method, and fungal infection was ruled out by periodic acid schiff (PAS) stains.

Patient with lupus nephritis revealed mesangial and endocapillary proliferation with irregular membrane thickening in addition to the granuloma formation in the interstitium [Figure 1]. Immunofluorescence showed full-house positivity with all the antibodies. In the other two cases, we got mesangial matrix expansion and sclerosis in the glomeruli along with the granuloma in the interstitium. In the third and sixth cases, we found crescents in more than 50% of the glomeruli, but no satisfactory immune deposits were noted. Thereby these cases were labeled as pauci-immune crescentic glomerulonephritis [Figure 2]. In each case, epithelioid cell granuloma formation with marked mononuclear inflammatory cell infiltration in the interstitium was observed. Foci of necrosis were noted in two cases. Moderate interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy were detected in two cases which corroborated with raised serum creatinine level.
Figure 1: Two cases of idiopathic granulomatous interstitial nephritis

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Figure 2: Case of pauci-immune crescentic glomerulonephritis

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  Discussion Top

Granulomatous interstitial nephritis is a rare type accounting for about 6% of all tubulointerstitial nephritis.[1] GIN accounts for 0.3%–<1% of all renal biopsies performed.[2],[3] Here, we describe our experience of six cases of GIN over a 6-month period from a tertiary care center in Eastern India.

The etiologies include TB, sarcoidosis, and drugs. Antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the usual causes for drug-induced GIN.[4] Some of the antibiotics reported to cause GIN are gentamycin, vancomycin, cefuroxime, clarithromycin, nitrofurantoin, and ciprofloxacin.[5] However, very often no cause could be detected. These cases therefore can be regarded as idiopathic GIN. In our study, we did not get any specific drug history or any specific cause in two cases. The rest of the four cases were associated with either lupus nephritis or pauci-immune crescentic glomerulonephritis.

India being endemic for TB, there are reports suggesting TB as the most common etiology.[6],[7] In a similar report, Colvin et al. showed that among 34 cases of GIN, the most common cause was drug allergy followed by sarcoidosis, and in nine cases no cause could be identified.[2] In spite of clinical history, appropriate investigations, and histology, an etiology could not be defined in some cases which were labeled as “idiopathic GIN.” Idiopathic GIN accounts for 8%–50% of all GIN in various studies. In our study, we found all our cases to be idiopathic.[1],[2],[3],[8]

GIN is a less common cause of renal allograft dysfunction. Ozdemir et al. reported tubulointerstitial nephritis in 8% of patients presented with graft dysfunction, three of which had GIN.[9] The etiologies of GIN in the renal allograft are infections (mycobacteria and fungi) due to immunocompromised state and antibiotics.[10] We have not reported any graft biopsy.

  Conclusion Top

Determination of the etiology of granulomatous interstitial nephritis is very much crucial for initiation of appropriate therapy. Although TB is the most common cause of granulomatous nephritis in India, chances of getting a granuloma are very rare on renal biopsies. Multiplex PCR for TB DNA in renal tissue is supportive for the diagnosis. Clinical suspicion, radiology, and necrotizing granuloma help us in distinguishing TB from sarcoidosis. Hence, we should keep our threshold of suspicion low to reach a diagnosis in time and start appropriate therapy to preserve renal function.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Viero RM, Cavallo T. Granulomatous interstitial nephritis. Hum Pathol 1995;26:1347-3.  Back to cited text no. 1
Timmermans SAMEG, Christiaans MHL, Abdul-Hamid MA, Stifft F, Damoiseaux JGMC, van Paassen P. Granulomatous interstitial nephritis and Crohn's disease. Clin Kidney J 2016;9:556-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Joss N, Morris S, Young B, Geddes C. Granulomatous interstitial nephritis. Clin J Am SocNephrol 2007;2:222-30.  Back to cited text no. 3
Rossert J. Drug-induced acute interstitial nephritis. Kidney Int 2001;60:804-17.  Back to cited text no. 4
Audimoolam VK, Bhandari S. Clarithromycin-induced granulomatoustubulo-interstitial nephritis. Nephrol Dial Transplant 2006;21:2654-5.  Back to cited text no. 5
Naidu GD, Ram R, Swarnalatha G, Uppin M, Prayaga AK, Dakshinamurty KV. Granulomatous interstitial nephritis: Our experience of 14 patients. Indian J Nephrol 2013;23:415-8.  Back to cited text no. 6
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Gupta P, Rana DS, Bhalla AK, Gupta A, Malik M, Gupta M,et al. Renal failure due to granulomatous interstitial nephritis in native and allograft renal biopsies: Experience from a tertiary care hospital, Renal Failure 2014;36:9:1468-70.  Back to cited text no. 7
Bijol V, Mendez GP, Nose V, Rennke HG. Granulomatous interstitialnephritis: A clinicopathologic study of 46 cases from a single institution. Int J Surg Pathol 2006;14:57-63.  Back to cited text no. 8
Lapasia JB, Kambham N, Busque S, Tan JC. Renal allograft granulomas in the early post-transplant period.NDT Plus 2010;3:397-401.  Back to cited text no. 9
Meehan SM, Josephson MA, Haas M. Granulomatous tubulointerstitial nephritis in therenal allograft. Am J Kidney Dis 2000;36:E27.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1]


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