What Is Membranoproliferative
Glomeruli are clusters of capillaries in your kidneys that help
to filter waste from your blood. When these structures become inflamed, a
condition known as glomerulonephritis (GN) develops.
Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis (MPGN) is a specific
type of GN that occurs when your body’s immune system functions abnormally. Your
immune system, which is responsible for fighting off diseases, begins to attack
healthy cells in your kidneys, destroying the function of your glomeruli.
MPGN goes by other names, including:
- mesangiocapillary glomerulonephritis
MPGN can be type 1 or type 2. Most cases of the disorder are type
1. Type 2 is much less common, and it’s a more aggressive form of the disease.
What Are the Symptoms of MPGN?
The symptoms of MPGN vary depending on the person, and they depend
on the type of the disease that you have. In some cases, you may not have any
symptoms of the disease. In others, damage to your kidney will produce specific
symptoms commonly associated with kidney disease. These symptoms can include:
- blood in your urine
- changes in your mental status, such as confusion
- cloudy urine
- dark urine
- a decrease in urine volume
- swelling, or edema, in your hands, feet, or face
What Causes MPGN?
MPGN occurs when your immune system malfunctions, mistakenly attacking
healthy cells. Underlying conditions that contribute to abnormal immune system
- autoimmune diseases, such as scleroderma, lupus,
Sjogren’s syndrome, and sarcoidosis
- certain cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma
- certain types of infections, such as hepatitis
B, hepatitis C, malaria, and endocarditis
Sometimes it’s not possible to identify the cause of the disease.
MPGN typically develops in children between the ages of 8 and 16 who have one
of these conditions.
How Is MPGN Diagnosed?
To diagnose MPGN, your doctor will examine you and order blood
and urine tests. If you have edema of your hands or feet and high blood
pressure, your doctor will order several different tests to confirm your
diagnosis. Blood and urine tests used to diagnose MPGN include:
- blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine level
- a serum complement C3 nephritic factor level
- a serum complement level test
- a urinalysis
- a urine protein test
If these results indicate the presence of MPGN, your doctor will
also order a kidney, or renal, biopsy. A kidney biopsy requires the removal of
a small sample of tissue from your kidneys. Your doctor will need the results
of this test to determine if you have MPGN type 1, 2, or 3. Although it’s invasive,
the renal biopsy is the only definitive method for diagnosing MPGN.
How Is MPGN Treated?
Treatment of MPGN depends on the severity of your condition.
There’s no cure for the disease. Treatment focuses on controlling your symptoms
and slowing the progression of the disease. Your doctor may ask you to change
your diet. You may need to limit your intake of salt, protein, and fluids. Your
doctor may also prescribe medications to control your blood pressure.
Medications may also be ordered to suppress your immune system. Your doctor
will be able to tailor your treatment to address your symptoms.
As the disease progresses, more damage to your kidneys will
occur. If kidney failure results, you may need dialysis to remove toxins from
your blood. Dialysis will clean your blood when your kidneys are no longer able
to do so. You may also undergo a kidney transplant if your kidneys fail.
What Complications Are Associated with MPGN?
Acute and chronic nephritis are the most common complications of
MPGN. Nephritis is a group of symptoms associated with kidney disease. These
symptoms can include:
- blood in your urine
- decreased urine output
- blurred vision
- a cough
- decreased alertness
- muscle aches
- joint pain
- shortness of breath
High blood pressure may also develop. As the disease progresses, you’ll
likely experience chronic kidney failure.
What Is the Long-Term Outlook for People
If you have MPGN, your long-term outlook will depend on the
severity of your disease and your overall health. You’ll need to talk to your
doctor about what you can expect. In some cases, the disease may not progress
for many years. You’ll need regular checkups to monitor your health. In other
cases, MPGN may resolve without treatment.
Some people will experience a rapid decline in their health. You
may develop kidney failure and require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
Although a kidney transplant will alleviate the need for dialysis, it’s common
to experience a recurrence of MPGN following organ transplant. So, a kidney
transplant will not cure the disease. Talk to your doctor to discuss strategies
for long-term management.