IgA Nephropathy- Symptoms and Causes

IgA nephropathy is a disease of the kidney. It is a form of inflammation of the glomeruli of the kidney. IgA nephropathy can attack other major organs, such as the liver, skin and heart.

IgA nephropathy progresses slowly over years, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. In some cases, leakage of blood in urine, while others develop end-stage kidney failure.

Keeping blood pressure under control and reducing cholesterol levels can slow the disease.

Kidneys are bean-shaped, fist-sized organs situated at the back, one on each side of your spine. Each kidney contains tiny blood vessels that filter waste, excess water and other substances from the blood as they pass through the kidneys. The filtered blood re-enters the bloodstream, while the waste material passes into the bladder and out of the body on urination.

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antibody that plays an important role in immune system by attacking invading pathogens and fighting infections. But in IgA nephropathy, this antibody collects in the glomeruli, causing inflammation and gradually affecting their filtering ability.


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The following might be causes of IgA deposits in the kidneys-

  • IgA nephropathy might be genetic.
  • Liver diseases. Liver Diseases include cirrhosis, a condition in which scar tissue replaces normal tissue within the liver, and chronic hepatitis B and C infections.
  • Celiac disease. Eating gluten, a protein found in most grains triggers this digestive condition.
  • These include HIV and some bacterial infections.


Blood in the urine is most common in people with IgA. Blood can become visible sometimes. The urine appears browner or “cola” colored, rather than bright red. Bouts of visible blood in the urine often occur during or immediately after the illnesses.

In addition to blood in the urine, people with IgA can have protein in the urine as well. The amount is generally less than 3.5g. It can result in leg swelling and fluid retention.

IgA can be suspected from blood or protein in the urine and other symptoms. But it can only be diagnosed by a kidney biopsy.

Also read: Nephrotic Syndrome in Children


The course of IgA nephropathy varies from person to person while in many cases it goes undiagnosed. People develop one or more of the following complications:

  • High blood pressure. Damage to your kidneys from IgA deposits can raise your blood pressure, and high blood pressure can further cause damage to your kidneys.
  • High cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can increase your risk of a heart attack.
  • Acute kidney failure. If your kidneys lose their filtering ability, waste products accumulate in your blood.
  • Chronic kidney disease. IgA nephropathy can gradually stop the functioning of kidneys. A solution to it is dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Nephrotic syndrome.This problem can be caused by damage to the glomeruli, including high urine protein levels, low blood protein levels, high cholesterol and lipids, and swelling of your eyelids, feet and abdomen.

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