Laboratory for personalized treatment of immune-mediated kidney diseases

Elion Hoxha

Mission Statement

“Personalizing treatment of immune-mediated glomerular diseases”

— Elion Hoxha, MD

Team Members

MD student

Julia Arndt

Technician

Celine Brauer

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PhD Student

Nicoletta Ferru

Study Nurse

Sandra Freyberg

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Study Nurse

Birgit Goldmann

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MD Student

Benedikt Krümpelmann

Technician

Eva-Maria Kuhr

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Clinician Scientist

Maya Machalitza, MD

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Technician

Katharina Schulz

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MD Student

Max Webendörfer

MD Student

Lothar Weiss

Research

Membranous Nephropathy (MN) is one of the most common causes for a nephrotic syndrome in adults and leads in up to 40% of cases to end-stage renal disease. MN is an autoimmune disease, caused by binding of circulating antibodies to endogenous or planted exogenous antigens. In up to 20% of cases MN is associated with other diseases, most notably malignancies, infections and autoimmune diseases.

In 75-80% of cases the podocytic target antigen in MN is Phospholipase A2 Receptor 1 (PLA2R1). Thrombospondin Type 1 Domain Containing 7A (THSD7A) is a second target antigen, causing MN in 2-3% of patients. Autoantibody levels in patients with MN are closely associated with treatment response and prognosis. Moreover, THSD7A-associated MN is often associated with malignancies.

The main focus of our group is the study of pathomechanisms of membranous nephropathy (MN) using translational approaches. Some of our major contributions in the field of MN have been the characterization of the clinical role of domain-specific PLA2R1-antibodies and of THSD7A-antibodies for the diagnosis, management and prognosis estimation of MN; the characterization of the pathogenicity of the PLA2R1-antibody in MN; the identification of Netrin G1 as a new target antigen in MN; the identification of the potential molecular link between THSD7A-associated MN and malignancy. Our group has also established the Hamburg Glomerulonephritis Registry, one of the largest prospectively studied cohort of patients with glomerulonephritis worldwide. Our aim is to clarify the specific pathomechanisms leading to development and progression of human MN and translate the understanding of MN pathophysiology to novel, specific treatment options for patients with this disease.

Some of our major goals are:

the identification of new target antigens, leading to development of MN in patients who are negative for PLA2R1 and THSD7A antibodies; the investigation of the mechanisms leading to development of autoimmunity and production of PLA2R1 and THSD7A antibodies in patients with MN; the characterization of pathomechanisms involved in disease progression, including characterization of pathogenic epitopes on the target antigens, antibody subclasses and complement activation. Our main objective is the development of new treatment strategies for patients with MN, which are individualized, specific, non-immunosuppressive and therefore less toxic.

Elion Hoxha, MD

Research Group Leader

III. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE)
Martinistr. 52
20246 Hamburg, Germany

CV

Current Position
since 2020

Research Group Leader, Hamburg Glomerulonephritis Registry, Project C1, Collaborative Research Centre 1192, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany 

since 2019

Consultant. III. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

since 2016
Research Group Leader, Membranous Nephropathy – Clinical role of pathogenetic
mechanisms, Project B1, Collaborative Research Centre 1192, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
University Training
2006 - 2008

Graduate Study of Molecular Biology, University of Hamburg, Germany

2002 - 2008 Study of Medicine, University of Hamburg, Germany
Academic qualifications
2016 - 2020

Habilitation in „Internal Medicine and Nephrology“. III. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, GermanyE

2016

Board Certification in Nephrology and Internal Medicine

2009
Dr. med. Thesis. Institute for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany (Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Manfred Jücker)
Previous professional career

Clinical postgraduate education:

2016 - 2018
Medical Specialist for Internal Medicine and Nephrology
III. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany
2009 - 2016
Residency and fellowship for Internal Medicine and Nephrology
III. Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

Scientific postgraduate education:

since 2019

Heisenberg Fellowship – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany

2020 - 2021
Steering Committee Member and Head of the COVID-19-Dialysis-Registry of the German Society of Nephrology
2017 - 2018

Else Kröner Exzellenzstipendium (Research Fellowship) – Else Kröner-Fresenius Stiftung, Germany

2012 - 2015
Research Grant “Characterization of inflammatory cells and mediators in human glomerulonephritis” – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany
2011 - 2013
Research Grant “Role of PLA2R1-ab for the development of primary membranous nephropathy” – Werner Otto Stiftung, Germany
2009 - 2011

Fellowship at the Clinical Research Unit 228 – Immunopathogenesis and Therapy of Glomerulonephritis – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany

Selected awards and honors
2022 Franz-Volhard Award of the German Renal Society
2018 - 2020

Teacher of the Year Award – University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

2016

Nils-Alwall-Award for clinical research – German Society of Nephrology, Germany

2012

Award for Best Oral Presentation – German Society of Nephrology, Germany

2010

Heinrich Nether-Promotionspreis (Award for best MD thesis in the field of Molecular Biology)

2010

Best Abstracts Presented by Young Authors Award – European Renal Association, European Dialysis and Transplant Association

2004 - 2005

Scholarship – University of Hamburg

Selected publications

1.

Membranous nephropathy: new pathogenic mechanisms and their clinical implications.
Hoxha E, Reinhard L, Stahl RAK. Nat Rev Nephrol. 2022;18(7):466-478.

2.
3.

Is primary membranous nephropathy a complement mediated disease?
Reinhard L, Stahl RAK, Hoxha E. Mol Immunol. 2020;128:195-204.

4.

Clinical Relevance of Domain-Specific Phospholipase A2 Receptor 1 Antibody Levels in Patients with Membranous Nephropathy.
Reinhard L, Zahner G, Menzel S, Koch-Nolte F, Stahl RAK, Hoxha E. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2020;31(1):197-207.

5.
6.

The Most N-Terminal Region of THSD7A Is the Predominant Target for Autoimmunity in THSD7A-Associated Membranous Nephropathy.
Seifert L*, Hoxha E*, Eichhoff AM, Zahner G, Dehde S, Reinhard L, Koch-Nolte F, Stahl RAK, Tomas NM. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2018;29(5):1536-1548.

7.

Translational Aspects of Primary Membranous Nephropathy.
Hoxha E, Stahl RAK. Semin Nephrol. 2017;37(5):436-446.

8.

An Indirect Immunofluorescence Method Facilitates Detection of Thrombospondin Type 1 Domain-Containing 7A-Specific Antibodies in Membranous Nephropathy.
Hoxha E, Beck LH Jr, Wiech T, Tomas NM, Probst C, Mindorf S, Meyer-Schwesinger C, Zahner G, Stahl PR, Schöpper R, Panzer U, Harendza S, Helmchen U, Salant DJ, Stahl RA. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017;28(2):520-531.

9.

Autoantibodies against thrombospondin type 1 domain-containing 7A induce membranous nephropathy.
Tomas NM*, Hoxha E*, Reinicke AT, Fester L, Helmchen U, Gerth J, Bachmann F, Budde K, Koch-Nolte F, Zahner G, Rune G, Lambeau G, Meyer-Schwesinger C, Stahl RA. J Clin Invest. 2016;126(7):2519-32.

10.

A Mechanism for Cancer-Associated Membranous Nephropathy.
Hoxha E, Wiech T, Stahl PR, Zahner G, Tomas NM, Meyer-Schwesinger C, Wenzel U, Janneck M, Steinmetz OM, Panzer U, Harendza S, Stahl RA. N Engl J Med. 2016;374(20):1995-6.

Funding

News

Open Positions

We are looking for highly motivated and ambitious postdocs, PhD students, master students, and student research assistants.

July 9, 2024 | Seminar
Open Positions

We are constantly looking for highly motivated, talented and team-oriented researchers to join our team ...

Martinistraße 52
Campus Research N27
20246 Hamburg Germany
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University Medical Center Hamburg - Eppendorf