The kidney in leptospirosis

Pediatr Nephrol. 2008 Dec;23(12):2111-20. doi: 10.1007/s00467-008-0811-4. Epub 2008 Apr 30.


Leptospirosis is a worldwide zoonosis. Typically, patients are young men, although children can be affected. In children, this disease causes mainly alterations of sensorium. Acute renal failure and jaundice (Weil's syndrome) are less common in children than in adults. The main renal histological findings are acute interstitial nephritis and acute tubular necrosis. Acute renal failure is characterized by hypokalemia and nonoliguria. Many factors are involved in its physiopathology: hypotension, hypovolemia, rhabdomyolysis, hyperbilirubinemia, and, primarily, the direct action of leptospiral proteins. Antibiotic administration (especially early administration) reduces length of hospitalization and leptospiruria. For children, even late antibiotic treatment has been shown to reduce the extent of acute renal failure and thrombocytopenia. Although the best method of dialysis is not yet established, early and intensive dialysis can decrease mortality. Mortality in patients with acute renal failure is approximately 15-20% in association with the presence of oliguria, higher levels of creatinine, and older age. Functional recovery is fast and complete; however, abnormal urinary concentration can persist.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / etiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Leptospirosis / complications*
  • Leptospirosis / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Nephritis, Interstitial / etiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents