What is IgA Nephropathy?

Learning all you can about the disease can keep you moving in the right direction.

Let’s start with the kidneys

Understanding IgA nephropathy begins with understanding your kidneys.  

Two kidneys, the organs affected by IgA nephropathy

Most people have 2 kidneys1

Computer mouse to show relative size of a human kidney

Most kidneys are the size of a computer mouse2

Kidneys and their position in the human body

Kidneys are situated below your ribs toward the middle of your back1

Kidneys are your body’s filtering system, and each one contains about a million tiny filtering units, called glomeruli. Kidneys remove waste products from your blood and extra fluid from your body through your urine, and let proteins and other nutrients return to your bloodstream. In just one day, your kidneys filter about 150 quarts of blood!3

Filtering units

If your glomeruli  (kidney’s filtering units) don’t work properly, you may experience:



Increased level of protein spills into urine1



Blood spills into urine4

Lowering proteinuria may lower the risk of your disease progressing (getting worse).5

Cross section of a kidney, the human organ affected by IgA nephropathy

IgA nephropathy

IgA nephropathy is a rare kidney disease.6 It occurs when immunoglobulin A (IgA)—an antibody in your blood that helps your body fight infections—builds up in your kidneys and disrupts their ability to filter waste from your blood.1,6

With IgA nephropathy, people can have higher levels of proteinuria, which puts them at risk for developing kidney failure.5

Increased level of protein spills into urine

Who is affected?

IgA nephropathy is a rare kidney disease that is6:

  • Most commonly found in Caucasians and people with ancestry from East Asia, including people from China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore. It can also be found in people with Hispanic heritage6,7
  • 2x more likely to develop in men than women (in North America and Europe)8
  • Known to occur at any age, but tends to appear between one’s teens and late 30s8


of IgA nephropathy

You may not experience any symptoms with IgA nephropathy at first.1 In fact, 40% of people living with IgA nephropathy have no recognizable symptoms when their disease is first suspected.9

People can have this disease for years without knowing it, as it continues to progress.1

If you do have symptoms, here are the most common to look for:

Liquid droplet with one half the droplet darker than the other half, to symbolize hematuria, or blood in the urine

Hematuria (blood in your urine) that can make it appear dark brown or cola colored1

Yellow liquid droplet and small white circles symbolizing foamy urine, a sign of large amounts of protein in your urine, or proteinuria

Foamy urine caused by proteinuria (large amounts of protein spilling into your urine)1

Swollen human foot

Edema (swelling) in your legs, feet, or ankles1

Heart symbol to represent high blood pressure

High blood pressure1

View of the inside of a blood vessel, with bumps on the vessel's inside walls symbolizing cholesterol deposits

High cholesterol10

Person placing their hand on their lower back, symbolizing pain in that area

Pain in one or both sides of your back below your ribs1

Person leaning forward and snoring, symbolizing unusual tiredness

Unusual tiredness

Do any of these
sound familiar?

A mountain reflected both in daylight and moonlight, symbolizing time passing, and the possibility that IgA nephropathy can get worse over time

IgA nephropathy can get worse over time1

IgA nephropathy can lead to kidney failure. It is important to stay on top of your disease.1 The sooner you take action to lower your proteinuria, the sooner you'll be working to slow your disease progression.11

Increased level of protein spills into urine

The path forward

Progression can be hard to predict because IgA nephropathy varies from person to person.1 But, if you continue to see your doctor, follow your treatment plan, and keep track of numbers like your proteinuria, blood pressure, and eGFR, you and your doctor will have a better idea of how to manage your disease.

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      1. Mayo Clinic. IgA nephropathy (Berger's disease). Accessed January 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iga-nephropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352268. 2. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Chronic kidney disease. Accessed January 2023. https://www.wmhs.com/upmc-western-maryland-march-2020-population-health-initiative-chronic-kidney-disease/. 3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Your kidneys & how they work. Accessed January 2023. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work. 4. Mayo Clinic. Blood in urine (hematuria). Accessed January 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/blood-in-urine/symptoms-causes/syc-20353432. 5. Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) Glomerular Diseases Work Group. KDIGO 2021 Clinical practice guideline for the management of glomerular diseases. Kidney Int. 2021;100(4S):S1-S276. 6. Kwon CS, Daniele P, Forsythe A, et al. A systematic literature review of the epidemiology, health-related quality of life impact, and economic burden of immunoglobulin A nephropathy. JHEOR. 2021;8(2)36-45. doi:10.36469/jheor.2021.26129. 7. Lai KN, Tang SCW, Schena FP, et al. IgA nephropathy. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2016;2:16001. 8. National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). IgA nephropathy. Accessed January 2023. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/iga-nephropathy/. 9. Barratt J, Feehally J. IgA nephropathy. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2005;16(7):2088-2097. 10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). IgA nephropathy. Accessed January 2023. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/iga-nephropathy. 11. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Slow progression and reduce complications. Accessed January 2023. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/professionals/clinical-tools-patient-management/kidney-disease/identify-manage-patients/manage-ckd/slow-progression-reduce-complications.

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