Hi, and thanks for the question
Glomeruli are the filtering units of the kidney. (There are about 1
million of them in each kidney). In membranous nephropathy the
filtering layer becomes thickened and causes a protein to leak into
the urine. (It is sometimes called membranous nephritis or membranous
Many people with membranous nephropathy have no symptoms. Usually they
come to medical attention because an abnormal amount of protein is
detected in their urine when it is tested as part of a health screen.
Some people notice a gradual and increasing swelling of their ankles
(called oedema), and if the protein leak is severe they will develop
Nephrotic Syndrome is the name given to a condition when large amounts
of protein leak out into the urine. Normal urine should contain almost
no protein. In nephrotic syndrome the leak is large enough so that the
levels of protein in the blood fall. The most obvious symptom is
usually swelling of the ankles and legs. Extra fluid may also
accumulate in the abdomen and around the face, especially overnight.
In children and young adults the ankles may be less affected and the
abdomen and face more affected.
In about 5 -15% of cases the protein present in the urine (called
proteinuria) will disappear of its own accord - known as a remission
In about 30-40% of cases the proteinuria will lessen - called a partial remission.
In some cases, perhaps 25%, the disease will progress and cause the
slow loss of kidney function, eventually resulting in kidney failure
and the need for dialysis or a kidney transplant.
The Medline Plus Medical Enclycopedia at :
has the following summary
"Membranous nephropathy may be a primary renal disease of uncertain
origin, or it may be associated with other conditions. Risks include
systemic disorders such as Hepatitis B, malaria, malignant solid
tumors, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, systemic lupus erythematosus,
syphilis, and others. Risks also include exposure to substances or
medications, including gold, mercury, penicillamine, trimethadione,
skin-lightening creams, and others. The disorder occurs in
approximately 2 out of 10,000 people. It may occur at any age but is
more common after age 40."
The information page for membranous necropathy for the renal unit at
the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, Scotland has a wealth of information
It lists the following key points
- Membranous nephropathy is a type of kidney disease that causes a
leak of protein into the urine. When severe, this is called nephrotic
- Most cases have no known cause but are probably autoimmune, like
thyroid disease and diabetes
- Sometimes the severity of the protein leak reduces with time without treatment
- In a small proportion of patients there is a gradual loss of kidney
function leading to a need for dialysis
- Changes in kidney function may take many years to develop
- Treatment may include control of blood pressure, control of blood
lipids and anticlotting treatment.
- The use of special immunosuppressive treatment can be helpful in some cases
The above site also has a lot of information about possible causes,
support groups, links to further information etc.
You can see a picture showing the thickened cell walls in the kidney here:
Hopefully the sites listed above will give you enough information,
but, as in all medical cases, if you are at all worried, you should
consult a physician and get them to explain the matter fully.
Hope that answered your question
membranous nephropathy treatment
membranous nephropathy causes