IgA nephropathy (IgAN) is one of the most
common causes of glomerulonephritis.
Glomerulonephritis is inflammation of
glomeruli, the filtering units of the kidney.
What is IgA?
IgA is a protein in the blood. It is an
antibody that helps us fight infections.
People with IgAN have a build-up IgA in
the glomeruli. This causes inflammation and
scarring in the kidneys and can cause kidney
What causes IgA nephropathy?
IgAN is an autoimmune disorder. That
means that the IgA antibody appears foreign
to the body and the immune system attacks
it. Scientists do not know what triggers this
process, but are working all over the world
to find causes.
Signs and Symptoms
Usually you do not have symptoms from
IgAN since damage can occur very slowly.
You might see blood or bubbles in the urine.
About 20% of patients with IgAN will have
kidney failure in 20 years after diagnosis of
the disease. If IgAN has affected your
kidneys for years, you will have signs and
symptoms of damage like swelling in legs,
high blood pressure, trouble breathing,
nausea or vomiting. You would want to see
a doctor much before that starts.
Diagnosis can only be made by kidney
biopsy. A biopsy removes a small piece of
the kidney. This sample helps to figure out
how much damage has already happened.
Your doctor will also do blood tests to check
your kidney function. Urine tests will be
done to look for protein in the urine.
There is not a cure for IgAN, but these are
ways to slow down the kidney damage:
1. Good blood pressure control with
medicines that lower protein in urine
2. Low salt diet
3. Regular exercise
Immunosuppressive medicines might be
used if your disease is causing damage at a
The National Institute of Diabetes and
Digestive and Kidney Diseases Health
ξ Phone number: 1-800-860-8747
References/Source of Images:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (2015, November).
IgA Nephropathy. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) (2014, April).
Glomerular diseases. Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 09/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#8005.