CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Until recently, the cause of most cases of membranous nephropathy was not known — termed idiopathic. But recent research has found evidence of autoimmune activity in a majority of cases studied. In autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, your body's immune system mistakes some of your own tissues as foreign invaders and attacks them with autoantibodies. These autoantibodies are now thought to be the cause of the damage to the glomeruli in most cases of membranous nephropathy.
Sometimes membranous nephropathy is brought on by other causes, notably:
- Infections (hepatitis B and C)
- Certain medications (gold salts, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Tumors (solid tumors and lymphomas)
- Appel GB. Glomerular disorders and nephrotic syndromes. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed June 9, 2011.
- Fervenza FC, et al. Idiopathic membranous nephropathy: Diagnosis and treatment. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2008;3:905.
- Swaminathan S, et al. Changing incidence of glomerular disease in Olmsted County, Minnesota: A 30-year renal biopsy study. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2006;1:483.
- Beck LH, et al. Causes and diagnosis of membranous nephropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/causes-and-diagnosis-of-membranous-nephropathy. Accessed June 9, 2011.
- Cattran D. Treatment of idiopathic membranous nephropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/treatment-of-idiopathic-membranous-nephropathy. Accessed June 9, 2011.
- Coping effectively: A guide to living well with kidney failure. National Kidney Foundation. http://www.kidney.org/atoz/pdf/coping.pdf. Accessed July 18, 2011.
- What is proteinuria? National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/proteinuria/. Accessed July 18, 2011.
- Fervenza FC, et al. Rituximab therapy in idiopathic membranous nephropathy: A 2-year study. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2010;5:2188.
- Fervenza FC, et al. Rituximab in idiopathic membranous nephropathy. Kidney International. 2008;73:117.