What is IgA nephropathy?
IgA nephropathy is a chronic kidney disease that may progress over a period of 10 to 20 years, and can lead to end-stage renal disease. It is caused by deposits of the protein immunoglobulin A (IgA) inside the glomeruli (filters) within the kidney. These glomeruli normally filter waste and excess water from the blood and send them to the bladder as urine. However, the IgA protein prevents this filtering process. This may lead to the following:
- blood and protein in the urine
- swelling in the hands and feet
What causes IgA nephropathy?
The IgA protein is a normal part of the body’s immune system. It is unknown what causes IgA deposits in the glomeruli; however, in more than 10 percent of affected families, IgA nephropathy is inherited by an autosomal dominant gene. Autosomal dominant inheritance means that the gene is located on one of the autosomes (chromosome pairs 1 through 22). This means that males and females are equally affected, and “dominant” means that only one gene is necessary to have the trait. When a parent has a dominant trait, there is a 50 percent chance that any child they have will also inherit the trait.
IgA nephropathy is a very heterogeneous condition, which means that the presentation varies greatly between individuals and families. In fact, some persons who inherit the gene may not have any symptoms, but could pass the gene on to the next generation. Many times men are affected more often than women.
Treatment for IgA nephropathy:
Specific treatment for IgA nephropathy will be determined by your physician based on:
- your age, overall health, and medical history
- extent of the disease
- your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
- expectations for the course of the disease
- your opinion or preference