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IgA Nephropathy

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


IgA Nephropathy

(Immunoglobulin A Nephropathy; Berger’s Disease)


IgA nephropathy is a buildup of a protein called immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the kidneys. It may start with minor changes, but over time can lead to kidney failure and other problems.

Anatomy of the Kidney.

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The immune system releases a protein called IgA to help the body fight off infection. IgA nephropathy happens when the protein builds up in the kidneys and damages the filters that remove waste and excess water.

IgA nephropathy may be caused by inherited genes or problems with the immune system.

Risk Factors

IgA nephropathy is more common in Asian people. It is also more common in men. Other things that may raise the risk are:


There are no symptoms in the early stages.

People who do have symptoms may have:

  • Blood in the urine—often after an infection such as a cold
  • Low fever
  • Pain in the side or back
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Foamy urine


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a doctor who treats kidney diseases.

Blood and urine tests will be done to look for problems with how the kidneys are working.

A sample of kidney tissue may be taken and tested. This can be done with a kidney biopsy.


The goal of treatment is to limit kidney damage and manage symptoms.

Treatment depends on the cause. Options may be:

  • Medicines to help control:
  • Lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, not smoking, and managing weight
  • Dialysis to filter blood when the kidneys cannot
  • A kidney transplant if the kidneys fail


There are no known ways to prevent IgA nephropathy.





  • IgA nephropathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/iga-nephropathy.
  • IgA nephropathy. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/iga-nephropathy.
  • IgA nephropathy. National Kidney Foundation website. Available at: https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/iganeph.
  • Selvaskandan H., Cheung CK, et al. New strategies and perspectives on managing IgA nephropathy. Clin Exp Nephrol 23, 577–588 (2019).


  • Mark S. Itzkowitz, MD, JD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.