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    IgA Nephropathy

    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 transplant.

    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 disease.

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    Goodpasture syndrome is a rare but serious autoimmune disease that attacks the lungs and kidneys. The disease occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly produces antibodies against collagen in the lungs and kidneys. Collagen is a protein that helps form connective tissue. Goodpasture syndrome initially causes vague symptoms such as fatigue. But it can rapidly involve the lungs and kidneys. It is almost always fatal if it is not quickly diagnosed and treated.

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    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 glomeruli.

    Some patients may benefit from limiting protein in their diet to reduce the buildup 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.

    For More Information

    American Kidney Fund
    6110 Executive Boulevard
    Rockville, MD 20852
    800-638-8299

    IgA Nephropathy Support Network
    964 Brown Avenue
    Huntington Valley, PA 19006
    215-663-0536

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Information Center
    P.O. Box 30105
    Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
    NHLBIinfo@rover.nhlbi.nih.gov
    301-592-8573

    National Kidney Foundation
    30 East 33rd Street
    New York, NY 10016
    800-622-9010

    Physicians and patients interested in a placebo-controlled, multi-center trial evaluating alternate-day prednisone and fish oil supplements in young patients with IgA nephropathy should call the Central Office of the Southwest Pediatric Nephrology Group at 1-800-345-IGAN.

    WebMD Public Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health

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