Merck Manual

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Primary Glomerular Disorders That Can Cause Glomerulonephritis

Primary Glomerular Disorders That Can Cause Glomerulonephritis




Fibrillary glomerulonephritis

In this rare disease, abnormal proteins are deposited around the glomerulus. It may also cause nephrotic syndrome.

The prognosis is poor. A severe decline in kidney function (end-stage kidney failure) occurs in half of people within 4 years. It is not clear whether treatment (with corticosteroids and immunosuppressants) helps.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy

The most common form of glomerulonephritis in the world is caused by immune complexes (combinations of antigens and antibodies) deposited in the kidneys.

Usually the disorder progresses slowly. End-stage kidney failure develops in about 25% of people after 20 years. The disorder progresses more slowly in children.

Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis

This uncommon type of glomerulonephritis occurs primarily between the ages of 8 and 30. The disorder is caused by immune complexes (combinations of antigens and antibodies) attaching to the kidneys, but sometimes why the complexes attach to the kidneys is unknown.

If the cause is known and can be treated, a partial remission may occur. The outcome is not as good in people in whom the cause remains unknown. About half of people progress to end-stage kidney failure within 10 years, and 90% within 20 years.

Primary rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis

This group of disorders causes microscopic damage to the glomeruli and progress rapidly. Sometimes they are caused by an infection or other treatable disorder. Kidney biopsy is required for diagnosis.

The prognosis is poor. At least 80% of people who are not treated develop end-stage kidney failure within 6 months. The prognosis is better for people younger than 60 years and when an underlying disorder causing the glomerulonephritis responds to treatment. With treatment, 43% of people develop end-stage kidney disease within 12 months.