Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
IgA nephropathy is a kidney disorder caused by
deposits of the protein immunoglobulin A (IgA) inside the glomeruli (filters)
within the kidney. These glomeruli (the singular form is glomerulus), normally
filter wastes and excess water from the blood and send them to the bladder as
urine. The IgA protein prevents this filtering process, leading to blood and
protein in the urine and swelling in the hands and feet. This chronic kidney
disease may progress over a period of 10 to 20 years. If this disorder leads to
end-stage renal disease, the patient must go on dialysis or receive a kidney
The IgA protein is a
normal part of the body's system to protect against disease (the immune system).
We do not know what causes IgA deposits in the glomeruli. But, since IgA
nephropathy may run in families, genetic factors probably contribute to the
Kidney disease usually cannot
be cured. Once the tiny filtering units are damaged, they cannot be repaired.
Treatment focuses on slowing the progression of the disease and preventing
complications. One complication is high blood pressure, which further damages
Some patients may benefit
from limiting protein in their diet to reduce the build-up of waste in the
blood. Patients with IgA nephropathy often have high cholesterol. Reducing
cholesterol-through diet, medication, or both-appears to help slow the
progression of IgA nephropathy.