Purpose: To determine the natural history of immunoglobulin (Ig) A nephropathy among patients who presented with hematuria and minimal proteinuria, and factors associated with the development of adverse clinical events, such as proteinuria.
Subjects and methods: In Hong Kong, all patients who present with isolated hematuria are referred for renal biopsy after urologic diseases are ruled out. We reviewed the clinical course of 72 consecutive patients with histologically confirmed IgA nephropathy who presented with hematuria and minimal proteinuria (0.4 g/day or less). All patients were normotensive and had normal renal function at presentation. Adverse events were defined as proteinuria greater than 1 g per day, hypertension, or impaired renal function (serum creatinine level 120 micromol/L or estimated creatinine clearance < 70 mL per minute).
Results: The mean (+/- SD) age at presentation was 27 +/- 8 years; 56 (78%) were female. Nine patients (13%) had grade 2 histologic lesions. During a median follow-up of 7 years, 32 patients (44%) developed adverse events: 24 (33%) developed proteinuria of 1 g per day or more, 19 (26%) became hypertensive, and 5 (7%) developed impaired renal function. Another 30 patients (42%) had persistently abnormal urinalysis examinations. Only 10 patients (14%) had complete resolution of hematuria. The median time for progression from proteinuria (> l g/day) to renal impairment was 84 months (range 56 to 132). In a multivariate analysis, age at presentation (relative risk [RR] per 10 years of age = 2.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.2 to 3.4) and histologic grade (grade 2 versus grade 1, RR = 4.5; 95% CI, 1.7 to 12) were independent predictors of developing an adverse event.
Conclusions: IgA nephropathy that presents with hematuria and minimal proteinuria is usually a progressive disease. Life-long follow-up with regular monitoring of blood pressure and proteinuria is recommended.