What is IgM Nephropathy?
IgM Nephropathy is an autoimmune disease that affects the filters (gomeruli) of the kidneys. IgM is an immunoglobulin, which is a part of an individual’s healthy immune system. Immunoglobulin M is an antibody produced by B cells and is normally the first antibody to respond and attack an infection in the body. When an individual has IgM nephropathy, the immunoglobulin M creates an immune complex and is deposited in the messangium of the kidney. This inflammation of these deposits damage the kidneys filters causing protein and sometimes blood to leak out of the kidneys and into the urine.
How is IgM Nephropathy Diagnosed?
IgM Nephropathy generally presents as Minimal Change Nephrotic Syndrome with the presence of protein in the urine, edema and sometimes blood in the urine. Typically these cases become hard to treat and lead to a kidney biopsy which then shows deposits of immunoglobulin M in the messangium of the kidneys.
What are the Symptoms of IgM Nephropathy?
IgM Nephropathy presents with Nephrotic Sydrome and symptoms may include:
- Proteinuria – Large amounts of protein “spilling” into the urine
- Edema – Swelling in parts of the body, most noticeable around the eyes, hands and feet, and abdomen.
- Low Blood Albumin Levels
- Foamy urine
- High Cholesterol in some cases
- High Blood Pressure in some cases
Who gets IgM Nephropathy?
Scientist have not found the cause of the defective IgM immunoglobulin in patients who suffer from IgM Nephropathy. It is likely to have both genetic and environmental components.
How is IgM Nephropathy Treated?
It is important to see a kidney specialist on a regular basis to monitor kidney function, degree of proteinuria, cholesterol and blood pressure. Since IgM is produced by B Cells medications that suppress the body’s ability to produce B Cells may be considered.
If remission is not obtained, it is important to be on a medication that reduces the amount of protein in the urine. These medications are called ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors) and ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers).
Your nephrologist may also recommend:
- Diuretics to help eliminate excess fluids in the body
- Low Sodium diet help to control edema
- Anticoagulants to prevent blood clots
- Blood Pressure medications to lower high blood pressure
- Statins to lower the cholesterol level
- Maintaining a healthy diet: Correct amounts of protein and fluid intake according to your nephrologist’s recommendations. A healthy diet consists of low salt with emphasis on fruits and vegetables, low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Not smoking
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