Pediatr Nephrol. 2011 Feb;26(2):181-94. doi: 10.1007/s00467-010-1585-z. Epub 2010 Jul 22.


Nephronophthisis (NPHP) is an autosomal recessive cystic kidney disease and the most frequent genetic cause of end-stage renal disease up to the third decade of life. It is caused by mutations in 11 different genes, denoted nephrocystins (NPHP1-11, NPHP1L). As an increasing number of these genes are identified, our knowledge of nephronophthisis is changing, thereby improving our understanding of the pathomechanisms in NPHP. Recent publications have described ciliary expression of nephrocystins together with other cystoproteins, such as polycystins 1 and 2 and fibrocystin. These findings have shifted our focus to a pathomechanism involving defects in ciliary function (ciliopathy) and planar cell polarity (PCP). In addition, discoveries of new nephrocystin genes have shown that the disease spectrum of NPHP is much broader than previously anticipated. Different forms of mutations within the same NPHP gene can cause different disease severity. In this review, we highlight the different hypotheses on the pathomechanisms for NPHP and underline the clinical variability of this disease. The clinical spectrum has become even more complex with the possibility of oligogenicity in NPHP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cilia / pathology
  • Cilia / physiology
  • Genes, Recessive*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic* / congenital
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic* / etiology
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic* / genetics
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic* / pathology
  • Kidney Diseases, Cystic* / physiopathology
  • Mutation
  • Phenotype

Supplementary concepts

  • Nephronophthisis, familial juvenile