Streptococcus mutans is known to be a major causative agent of dental caries, and strains expressing the cell surface collagen-binding Cnm protein contribute to the development of several systemic diseases. A relationship between tonsillar immunity and glomerulonephritis has been recognized in IgA nephropathy (IgAN), and specific pathogens may have effects on tonsillar immunity (mucosal immunity). Here, we present findings showing a relationship between the presence of Cnm-positive S. mutans strains in the tonsils of IgAN patients and IgAN condition/pathogenesis. Analyses of tonsillar specimens obtained from patients with IgAN (n = 61) and chronic tonsillitis (controls; n = 40) showed that the Cnm protein-positive rate was significantly higher in IgAN patients. Among IgAN patients, the tonsillar Cnm-positive group (n = 15) had a significantly higher proportion of patients with high urinary protein (>1.5 g/gCr) and lower serum albumin level than the Cnm-negative group (n = 46). Additionally, Cnm protein and CD68, a common human macrophage marker, were shown to be merged in the tonsils of IgAN patients. These findings suggest that Cnm-positive S. mutans strains in the tonsils may be associated with severe IgAN.
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