Skip to content

Information and Resources

Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease

Font Size
A
A
A

What Is Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease?

Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) causes a lot of fluid-filled sacs, called cysts, to grow in your kidneys. The cysts keep your kidneys from working like they should. That can cause health problems like high blood pressure, infections, and kidney stones. It can also cause kidney failure, although that doesn't happen to everyone.

You can have ADPKD and not know it for many years. It’s often called “adult PKD,” because the symptoms don't usually appear until people reach ages 30 to 40. But over time, ADPKD can start to damage your kidneys.

Recommended Related to

Understanding Kidney Disease -- the Basics

The kidneys are two organs located on either side of your spine in the middle of your back, just above the waist. They perform several life-sustaining roles: They cleanse your blood by removing waste and excess fluid, maintain the balance of salt and minerals in your blood, and help regulate blood pressure. When the kidneys become damaged, waste products and fluid can build up in the body, causing swelling in your ankles, vomiting, weakness, poor sleep, and shortness of breath. If left untreated,...

Read the Understanding Kidney Disease -- the Basics article > >

You can slow the damage and prevent some of the complications by making healthy habits part of your life. Depending on the type of ADPKD you have, you can lead an active life for many years by managing your symptoms and working with your doctor. There’s not a cure, but scientists are doing research to look for new treatments.

Causes

ADPKD is caused by a problem with one of two genes in your DNA -- PKD1 or PKD2. These genes make proteins in kidney cells that let them know when to grow. A problem with either gene causes kidney cells to grow out of control and form cysts.

Many genetic diseases happen when a person gets broken genes from both parents, but with ADPKD you need only one faulty gene to have the disease. That's why this kind of PKD is called “autosomal dominant,” meaning only one parent has to pass on a broken gene.

If one parent has the disease, each child has a 50-50 chance of getting it.

You can get ADPKD even if neither of your parents had the disease. This happens when one of your PKD genes gets a defect on its own. But it’s rare for someone to get it this way.

Symptoms

Not everyone with ADPKD will have symptoms. Those who do may not notice anything for many years. Most people with the disease have high blood pressure. Urinary tract infections and kidney stones are also common.

1 | 2 | 3

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

feet
Solutions for 19 types.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
man rubbing painful knee
A visual guide.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
human lungs
Symptoms, causes, treatments.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
two male hands
Test your knowledge.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.