Nephropathy refers to damage to or disease of the kidney. An older term for this is nephrosis.
Causes of nephropathy include administration of analgesics, xanthine oxidase deficiency, and long-term exposure to lead or its salts. Chronic conditions that can produce nephropathy include systemic lupus erythematosus, diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure (hypertension), which lead to diabetic nephropathy and hypertensive nephropathy, respectively.
One cause of nephropathy is the long term usage of analgesics. The pain medicines which can cause kidney problems include aspirin, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. This form of nephropathy is "chronic analgesic nephritis," a chronic inflammatory change characterized by loss and atrophy of tubules and interstitial fibrosis and inflammation (BRS Pathology, 2nd edition).
Specifically, long term use of the analgesic phenacetin has been linked to renal papillary necrosis (necrotizing papillitis).
Xanthine oxidase deficiency
A second possible cause of nephropathy is due to decreased function of xanthine oxidase in the purine degradation pathway. Xanthine oxidase will degrade hypoxanthine to xanthine and then to uric acid. Xanthine is not very soluble in water; therefore, an increase in xanthine forms crystals (which can lead to kidney stones) and result in damage of the kidney. Drugs like allopurinol that are used to inhibit xanthine oxidase can therefore cause possible nephropathy.
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