There's no cure for IgA nephropathy and no definitive way of knowing what course the disease will take. Some people experience complete remission and others live normal lives with low-grade blood or protein in their urine (hematuria or proteinuria).
Treatment with a number of medications can slow the progress of the disease and help you manage symptoms such as high blood pressure, protein in the urine (proteinuria), and swelling (edema) in your hands and feet.
Medications used to treat IgA nephropathy include:
- High blood pressure medications. A common complication of IgA nephropathy is high blood pressure. Taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) can lower your blood pressure and reduce the amount of protein (albumin) in your urine.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. These beneficial fats, available in dietary fish oil supplements, may reduce inflammation in the glomeruli without harmful side effects. Get advice from your doctor before you start using supplements.
- Immunosuppressants. In some cases, corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, and other potent drugs that suppress the immune response (immunosuppressants) may be used to help protect kidney function. But these drugs can cause a range of serious side effects, such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar, so their benefits must be carefully weighed against the risks.
- Statin therapy. Cholesterol-lowering medications may help to slow damage to your kidneys.
- Mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept). Most studies so far have failed to show a benefit for using this medication, but it has been used successfully in some people who have persistent protein in their urine despite treatment with medications that lower blood pressure.
The ultimate goal is to avoid the need for kidney dialysis or kidney transplantation. But in more advanced cases, dialysis or transplantation may be necessary.
April 08, 2016
- Gilbert SJ, et al. Immunoglobulin A nephropathy and related disorders. In: National Kidney Foundation's Primer on Kidney Diseases. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA.: Elsevier/Saunders; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 27, 2016.
- Roberts IS. Pathology of IgA nephropathy. Nature Reviews Nephrology. 2014;10:445.
- IgA nephropathy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/iga-nephropathy/Pages/facts.aspx . Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- Immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgA nephropathy). Merck Manuals Professional Edition. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/genitourinary-disorders/glomerular-disorders/immunoglobulin-a-nephropathy-(iga-nephropathy). Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- IgA nephropathy. National Organization for Rare Disorders. http://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/iga-nephropathy/. Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- IgA nephropathy. National Kidney Foundation. https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/iganeph. Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- Barratt J, et al. Clinical presentation and diagnosis of IgA nephropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 31, 2016.
- Wyatt RJ, et al. IgA nephropathy. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;368:2402.
- Vecchio M, et al. Immunosuppressive agents for treating IgA nephropathy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003965.pub2/abstract. Accessed Jan. 31, 2016.
- NKF PEERS. National Kidney Foundation. https://www.kidney.org/patients/peers/. Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- Cook AJ. EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 6, 2016.
- Your guide to lowering blood pressure. National Institutes of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/resources/heart/hbp-guide-to-lower. Accessed Jan. 29, 2016.
- Fervenza FC (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 16, 2016.
IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease)