Thin basement membrane nephropathy (TBMN) is a glomerular disorder characterized clinically by isolated hematuria and pathologically by diffuse thinning of the glomerular basement membrane (GBM) on ultrastructural examination. The pathologic diagnosis of TBMN is problematic, in part because of the wide range of GBM thicknesses in the normal population. GBM thickness varies with age, sex, and the different methods of tissue preparation and measurement. In addition, there are no standardized diagnostic criteria defining the degree or extent of GBM thinning required for the diagnosis of TBMN. GBM thinning is often seen in other glomerulopathies, where it may represent an overlap with TBMN or may be secondary to GBM damage and remodeling. Importantly, TBMN must be differentiated from the GBM thinning seen in some renal biopsy specimens from boys and female heterozygotes with X-linked Alport syndrome because of the very different prognoses of these two conditions.
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