What Is Membranous Glomerulonephritis?
Your kidneys are made up of a number of different structures that
aid in the removal of wastes from your blood and the formation of urine. Glomerulonephritis
(GN) is a condition in which changes in the structures of your kidney can cause
swelling and inflammation.
Membranous glomerulonephritis (MGN) is a specific type of GN. MGN
develops when inflammation of your kidney structures cause problems with the
functioning of your kidney. MGN is known by other names, including extramembranous
glomerulonephritis, nephropathy, and nephritis.
Other complications can also arise from
this condition, including:
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- blood clots
- kidney failure
- kidney disease
What Are the Symptoms of Membranous Glomerulonephritis?
The symptoms of MGN are different for everyone, and you may not
have symptoms at all. If symptoms do develop, they typically include:
- swelling of the hands, feet, or face
- foamy urine
- an excessive need to urinate at night
- weight gain
- poor appetite
- blood in the urine
MGN causes damage to your kidney, resulting in the filtration of
protein from your blood into your urine. Your body needs protein, and a lack of
protein leads to water retention and swelling. All these symptoms are
associated and known as nephrotic
What Causes Membranous Glomerulonephritis?
MGN can develop as a primary kidney disease, meaning it’s not
caused by another condition. This kind of MGN has no known cause.
However, MGN can also develop as a result of other underlying
health conditions. You’re more likely to develop MGN if you:
- have been exposed to toxins such as mercury
- use certain medicines, including gold, penicillamine,
trimethadione, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or skin-lightening creams
- have infections that affect your immune system
such as malaria, hepatitis B, Hepatitis C endocarditis, or syphilis
- have certain types of cancers including melanoma
- have an autoimmune disorder such as lupus,
rheumatoid arthritis, or Grave’s disease
- have had a kidney or bone marrow transplant
MGN is very rare. It occurs in two out of every 10,000 people.
It’s most commonly diagnosed in people over age 40.
How Is Membranous Glomerulonephritis Diagnosed?
If you have MGN symptoms such as swelling, your doctor may order
a urinalysis, which will show if you have protein in your urine. Other tests
may also be ordered to confirm diagnosis, including:
- blood and urine albumin tests
- blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- creatinine blood
- creatinine clearance
- lipid panel
- blood and urine protein
If these tests indicate the presence of MGN, your doctor may also
order a kidney biopsy. Your doctor will obtain a small sample of kidney tissue
which will then be sent to a lab for analysis. The results of this test will
help confirm your diagnosis.
Following diagnosis of MGN, your doctor may perform additional
tests to see what may be causing your condition. Examples of these tests
- an antinuclear antibodies test
- an antidouble-strand DNA test
- a test for hepatitis B
- a test for hepatitis C
- a test for malaria
- a test for syphilis
- a test for complement levels
- a cryoglobulin test
How Is Membranous Glomerulonephritis Treated?
There’s no cure for MGN, and treatment focuses on controlling and
reducing your symptoms. You may need to make changes in your diet by reducing
your salt and protein intake, and you may also need to take medication to help
control your blood pressure. Your doctor may prescribe drugs known as
corticosteroids to suppress your immune system and water pills, or diuretics,
may be used to reduce swelling. MGN may place you at risk for developing blood
clots, and your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medications to control
If MGN is caused by an underlying disorder, your doctor may
recommend treatment for that condition as well. The specific treatment plan
will be individualized for you. Talk to your doctor to find out what treatments
What Is the Outlook for People with Membranous Glomerulonephritis?
The long-term outlook for people with MGN varies. A majority of people
with MGN experience long periods without symptoms and then develop flare-ups.
You’ll need to visit your doctor for regular checkups so they can monitor your
condition. In some instances, the disease may resolve without treatment.
Many people who develop MGN develop some irreversible kidney
damage within two to 20 years of being diagnosed with the disease. End-stage
renal disease (ESRD) or kidney failure occurs in 14 percent
of people after five years. If you have kidney failure, your doctor will
prescribe dialysis, which will clean your blood when your kidneys no longer
work. People with ESRD may also be eligible for a kidney transplant.