NIH conference. Membranous nephropathy

Ann Intern Med. 1992 Apr 15;116(8):672-82. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-116-8-672.


Membranous nephropathy is a worldwide problem that accounts for about 20% of the cases of the adult-onset nephrotic syndrome. This disease places many patients at risk for both end-stage renal failure and the complications of hyperlipidemia. Immune-mediated injury to the glomerular capillary wall in patients with membranous nephropathy is characterized by subepithelial immune complex formation and generation of the membrane attack complex of complement. Glomerular capillary hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and possibly cytokines could contribute to the glomerular sclerosis seen in the advanced stages of the disorder. In some cases, production of pathogenic antibody can be suppressed by treating the underlying condition. The mechanisms of action of immunosuppressive agents are being investigated and treatments are being tested in clinical trials to optimize the balance of efficacy and toxicity. Alternate-day treatment with corticosteroids is often recommended for nephrotic patients with idiopathic membranous nephropathy, but this approach has not been proved beneficial. Ongoing studies are evaluating whether cytotoxic drugs or cyclosporin A combined with prednisone is more effective than treatment with corticosteroids alone. Lipid-lowering drug therapy is warranted in cases of the persistent nephrotic syndrome to avert the cardiovascular sequelae of hyperlipidemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous* / complications
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous* / drug therapy
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous* / immunology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use


  • Immunosuppressive Agents