What is immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy?

Updated: Feb 15, 2018
  • Author: Sohail Abdul Salim, MD, FASN, FACP; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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Answer

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy is characterized by predominant IgA deposition in the glomerular mesangium. [1]  It is one of the most common causes of glomerulonephritis in the world. [2, 3]  IgA nephropathy was first described by Berger and Hinglais in 1968, and is also known as Berger disease. [4]   [5]

Pathologically, a spectrum of glomerular lesions can be seen, but mesangial proliferation with prominent IgA deposition is observed in almost all biopsies. See the images below.

Light microscopy of a glomerulus from a patient wi Light microscopy of a glomerulus from a patient with immunoglobulin A nephropathy showing increased mesangial matrix and cellularity.
Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrating large Immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrating large mesangial immunoglobulin A (IgA) deposits diagnostic of IgA nephropathy.

Although IgA nephropathy is a limited nonsystemic renal disease, many systemic illnesses are sporadically associated with mesangial IgA deposition. Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP), a systemic illness, has been closely linked to IgA nephropathy. Other systemic diseases in which mesangial deposits of IgA are regularly observed include systemic lupus erythematosushepatitisdermatitis herpetiformis, and ankylosing spondylitis.


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