Introduction: Hypertensive nephrosclerosis (HN) ranks as one of the most frequent causes of chronic kidney disease (CKD), but its very existence has repeatedly been called into question, especially in young adults. Its diagnostic framework is established chiefly on non-specific clinical criteria, and its defining histopathological set of features is in fact shared by numerous other conditions. Genetic testing based on exome sequencing (ES) has emerged as a comprehensive tool to detect Mendelian diseases in timely fashion in nephrology, with a significant number of re-established diagnoses. The aim of this study was to investigate the diagnostic yield of ES in patients with a clinical diagnosis of hypertensive nephropathy. Method: Since September 2018, ES has been readily available as part of the routine diagnostic work-up in our institution. The indication of ES includes hypertensive nephropathy of early onset (i.e., <45 years old). We retrospectively collected the ES data performed in the context of hypertensive nephropathy in our institution between September 2018 and February 2021. Results: A total of 128 patients were sequenced in the context of hypertensive nephropathy with early onset. The chief indications of ES were an early onset of CKD (47%), family history of kidney disease (8%), or both (18%). We detected diagnostic variants in 19 of the 128 patients (15%), encompassing a total of 13 different monogenic disorders. The diagnostic yield of ES was lower in patients of African ancestry (diagnostic yield of 7 vs. 30% in non-African ancestry patients, p < 0.001). Conclusions: The high diagnostic yield of ES (15%) in a population of patients thought to have HN casts further doubts on the validity of the existing diagnosis criteria, including histological criteria, supposed to characterize the condition. This was especially true in patients with no African ancestry, where ES positivity reached 30%.

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