Distribution of Biopsy-Proven Presumed Primary Glomerulonephropathies in 2000-2011 Among a Racially and Ethnically Diverse US Population

Am J Kidney Dis. 2016 Oct;68(4):533-544. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2016.03.416. Epub 2016 Apr 30.


Background: The incidence and distribution of primary glomerulonephropathies vary throughout the world and by race and ethnicity. We sought to evaluate the distribution of primary glomerulonephropathies among a large racially and ethnically diverse population of the United States.

Study design: Case series from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2011.

Setting & participants: Adults (aged ≥ 18 years) of an integrated health system who underwent native kidney biopsy and had kidney biopsy findings demonstrating focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), membranous glomerulonephritis (MGN), minimal change disease (MCD), immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN), and other.

Outcomes: Rates and characteristics of the most common primary glomerulonephropathies overall and by race and ethnicity.

Results: 2,501 patients with primary glomerulonephropathy were identified, with a mean age 50.6 years, 45.7% women, 36.1% Hispanics, 31.2% non-Hispanic whites, 17.4% blacks, and 12.4% Asians. FSGS was the most common glomerulonephropathy (38.9%) across all race and ethnic groups, followed by MGN (12.7%), MCD (11.0%), IgAN (10.2%), and other (27.3%). The FSGS category had the greatest proportion of blacks, and patients with FSGS had the highest rate of poverty. IgAN was the second most common glomerulonephropathy among Asians (28.6%), whereas it was 1.2% among blacks. Patients with MGN presented with the highest proteinuria (protein excretion, 8.3g) whereas patients with FSGS had the highest creatinine levels (2.6mg/dL). Overall glomerulonephropathy rates increased annually in our 12-year observation period, driven by FSGS (2.7 cases/100,000) and IgAN (0.7 cases/100,000). MGN and MCD rates remained flat.

Limitations: Missing data for urine albumin and sediment, indication bias in performing kidney biopsies, and inexact classification of primary versus secondary disease.

Conclusions: Among a racially and ethnically diverse cohort from a single geographical area and similar environment, FSGS was the most common glomerulonephropathy, but there was variability of other glomerulonephropathies based on race and ethnicity.

Keywords: IgA nephropathy (IgAN); Primary glomerulonephropathy; case series; epidemiology; focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS); glomerulonephritis; kidney biopsy; membranous glomerulonephritis (MGN); minimal change disease (MCD); nephrotic syndrome; race/ethnic predilection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Continental Population Groups*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Female
  • Glomerulonephritis / epidemiology*
  • Glomerulonephritis / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult