IgA Nephropathy Overview

What is IgA Nephropathy?

IgA Nephropathy (IgAN), also known as Berger’s disease, is an autoimmune disease that damages the kidneys. It occurs when your immune system increasingly releases an abnormal protein called galactose deficient IgA (or Gd-IgA1), which is a target for autoantibodies. The immune complexes (autoantibody plus Gd-IgA1) build up in the kidneys, damaging the filters, causing inflammation, and may eventually lead to kidney failure.

What are the symptoms of IgAN and how is it diagnosed?

The most common symptoms of IgAN are blood or protein in the urine, which can cause it to look dark or foamy. However, some people may not experience any symptoms. Laboratory tests can be performed to measure how the kidney is functioning, but the only way to diagnose IgAN is with a kidney biopsy, which is a procedure that involves collecting a small sample of the kidney by using a needle.

Is there treatment available for IgAN?

Currently, there is neither a cure for IgAN nor effective medicines that directly treat the disease. Doctors help manage IgAN through treatment with blood pressure medicines such as ACE inhibitors and ARBs. 

Where can I learn more about IgAN?

Ask your doctor for more information about IgAN.  You can also learn more about IgAN at the IgAN Foundation website, the National Kidney Foundation website, or the NephCure website.