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 After PLA2R, NELL-1 related membranous nephropathy(MN) seems to be the second most common MN.  Initially, the studies had pointed towards a cancer-related cause for NELL-1 MN. In recent years and most recently, 2 papers published in 2024 highlight the role of complementary medications.  

A study from India investigates the clinical outcomes of NELL1-associated MN compared to unidentified antigen-associated MN. Among 46 NELL1 and 36 unidentified antigen-associated MN patients, a significant history of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use was noted particularly in the NELL1 group. NELL1-associated MN patients showed a lesser need for immunosuppression, attributed partly to CAM intake, with similar remission rates observed in both groups. The study highlights the distinct clinical features of NELL1-associated MN, including its association with CAM, and suggests a potential for spontaneous remission in these patients. Despite limitations like small sample size and short follow-up, findings indicate CAM’s role in NELL1-associated MN and underscore the need for further research in this entity. 

A study spanning three institutions in the USA reviewed NELL1 associated MN cases, revealing that 53% of the 70 patients were male, with a median age of 66 and proteinuria of 5.9 grams/day. Associations included lipoic acid (36%), heavy NSAID use (27%), autoimmune diseases (23%), and malignancy (33%). At a median 11-month follow-up, 72% achieved remission, notably 91% in lipoic acid-associated cases with ≥6 months follow-up. Primary NELL1 MN and greater tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis predicted lower remission rates, while lipoic acid use correlated with higher complete remission rates, suggesting its discontinuation as a primary treatment strategy.

I have revised my concept map for NELL-1 MN based on this study to really highlight the CAM and Lipoic acid components. ( created using bio-render).