What is Nephropathy?

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Nephropathy is a broad medical term used to denote disease or damage of the kidney, which can eventually result in kidney failure. The primary and most obvious functions of the kidney are to excrete any waste products and regulate the water and acid-base balance of the body; therefore, loss of kidney function is a potentially fatal condition.

Image Credit: Shidlovski / Shutterstock.com

Nephropathy is considered a progressive illness; in other words, as kidneys become less and less effective over time with the progression of the disease, the condition of the patient gets worse if left untreated. This is the reason why it is pivotal to receive an adequate diagnosis and treatment as early as possible.

Diabetic nephropathy

Diabetic nephropathy is considered a major microvascular complication of diabetes mellitus that affects approximately one-third of all diabetic patients. It usually accompanies albuminuria with glomerular hyperfiltration and renal hypertrophy in the early stage, often showing a deteriorating course that can lead to end-stage renal failure.

Histopathologically, diabetic nephropathy is characterized by glomerulosclerosis with thickening of the glomerular basement membrane, abnormalities of podocytes, which are the terminally differentiated cells located in the Bowman’s capsule of the kidney, and extracellular matrix accumulation in the glomerular mesangial area.

Proper management of hyperglycemia, hypertension, and serum lipid levels is pivotal in preventing the onset and progression of nephropathy in diabetic patients. Nevertheless, no available treatment has been able to halt the progression of diabetic nephropathy to end-stage renal failure; therefore, new therapeutic modalities to manage diabetic nephropathy are desperately needed.

IgA nephropathy

Since its initial description in 1968, immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy remains the most common form of primary glomerulonephritis that can lead to chronic kidney disease. This condition is very commonly observed in Southern Europe, Australia and Asia, whereas in Northern climates of the western world, the incidence is approximately 5-10% of all biopsies for glomerulonephritis.

The diagnostic hallmark of the disease is the deposition of IgA antibodies in the glomeruli, alone or together with IgM or IgG antibodies. Activation of innate immune response and complement, as well as the formation of immune complexes, plays a significant role in the clinical presentation and severity of IgA nephropathy.

Behind the Mystery: IgA Nephropathy

Notably, young males with macroscopic hematuria following an upper respiratory tract infection are highly suspicious IgA nephropathy. Aside from this type of situation, there is no pathognomonic clinical presentation of this condition; therefore, an accurate diagnosis will require a renal biopsy. Presently available treatment options are targeted towards the inflammatory and immune events that are the hallmark of this condition and often result in renal scarring.

Other types of nephropathy

Analgesic nephropathy is a chronic renal disease caused by excessive and prolonged consumption of analgesic mixtures that contain phenacetin or two other analgesics, such as salicylic acid-paracetamol, salicylic acid-pyrazolones, paracetamol-pyrazolones, or two pyrazolones combined with potentially addictive substances such as codeine or caffeine.

Renal papillary necrosis, which indicates damage to the inner medulla caused by capillary sclerosis, represents the characteristic feature of analgesic nephropathy and most often arises as a result of long-term use of phenacetin. Renal complications that can ensue in this condition include acute or chronic pyelonephritis, calcification of necrotic papillae, urolithiasis, and/or uroepithelial tumors.

Acute uric acid nephropathy stems from the intratubular deposition of uric acid crystals when a high serum uric acid concentration is present. This condition usually occurs during the induction of chemotherapy for malignancies with high cell turnover. The recommended treatment options for this acute uric acid nephropathy include alkalization of the urine and a drug known as rasburicase, which is a recombinant urate oxidase.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Dr. Tomislav Meštrović

Written by

Dr. Tomislav Meštrović

Dr. Tomislav Meštrović is a medical doctor (MD) with a Ph.D. in biomedical and health sciences, specialist in the field of clinical microbiology, and an Assistant Professor at Croatia's youngest university - University North. In addition to his interest in clinical, research and lecturing activities, his immense passion for medical writing and scientific communication goes back to his student days. He enjoys contributing back to the community. In his spare time, Tomislav is a movie buff and an avid traveler.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Meštrović, Tomislav. (2023, March 06). What is Nephropathy?. News-Medical. Retrieved on April 20, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Nephropathy.aspx.

  • MLA

    Meštrović, Tomislav. "What is Nephropathy?". News-Medical. 20 April 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Nephropathy.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Meštrović, Tomislav. "What is Nephropathy?". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Nephropathy.aspx. (accessed April 20, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Meštrović, Tomislav. 2023. What is Nephropathy?. News-Medical, viewed 20 April 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Nephropathy.aspx.


  1. Ana Alice Purcina Ana Alice Purcina Brazil says:

    o meu irmaõ teve esse diaginostico mais até o momento o medico dessa aria não avaliou o exame,no caso dele ele teve uma inflamação no intestino crônica,e faz uso de mesacol 800mg;e agora o que pode acontecer com ele?

  2. cathy farris cathy farris United States says:

    Why are you pushing a new drug?

  3. cathy farris cathy farris United States says:

    Thanks for the great info.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
New research sheds light on gut-kidney axis in diabetes and diabetic nephropathy