Infective Endocarditis-Associated Purpura and Glomerulonephritis Mimicking IgA Vasculitis: A Diagnostic Pitfall



      Purpura and glomerulonephritis are typical presentations in IgA vasculitis. Infective endocarditis mimicking IgA vasculitis by presenting with glomerulonephritis and purpura is rarely reported.


      We searched for cases with infective endocarditis-associated purpura and glomerulonephritis in a tertiary hospital in China and retrospectively reviewed their clinicopathological features. Differential diagnosis and treatment in patients with infective endocarditis-associated purpura and glomerulonephritis were discussed.


      A total of 20 cases with infective endocarditis-associated purpura and glomerulonephritis were identified among 548 cases with infective endocarditis in our center during an 8-year period: 7 of the 20 cases (35%) were initially misdiagnosed as IgA vasculitis and 10 cases (50%) presented with left-sided endocarditis caused by Streptococcus viridans. Fever (100%, 20 out of 20), prior valvular deformities (80%, 16 out of 20), cardiac murmur (95%, 19 out of 20), splenomegaly (84%, 16 out of 19), embolism (55%, 11 out of 20), and hypocomplementemia (76%, 13 out of 17) were present in most patients. Crescents and mesangial hypercellularity with or without endothelial hypercellularity were the primary findings on light microscopy, with C3-dominant deposition on immunofluorescence. But IgA-dominant staining was also observed (40%, 2 out of 5). In patients with rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis, patients with complete recovery of renal function had shorter disease duration and higher ratio (67% vs 20%) of immunosuppressive therapy compared with patients with partial recovery.


      Infective endocarditis-associated glomerulonephritis and purpura can closely mimic IgA vasculitis. Differential diagnosis is challenging, particularly when typical presentations of infective endocarditis are absent. In adults with presentations like IgA vasculitis, infective endocarditis should be evaluated through comprehensive clinical and pathological investigations. Immunosuppressive therapy can be considered in patients with severe glomerulonephritis who do not improve after proper anti-infective therapy.


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