Dyslipidaemia in nephrotic syndrome: mechanisms and treatment

Nat Rev Nephrol. 2018 Jan;14(1):57-70. doi: 10.1038/nrneph.2017.155. Epub 2017 Nov 27.


Nephrotic syndrome is a highly prevalent disease that is associated with high morbidity despite notable advances in its treatment. Many of the complications of nephrotic syndrome, including the increased risk of atherosclerosis and thromboembolism, can be linked to dysregulated lipid metabolism and dyslipidaemia. These abnormalities include elevated plasma levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and the apolipoprotein B-containing lipoproteins VLDL and IDL; decreased lipoprotein lipase activity in the endothelium, muscle and adipose tissues; decreased hepatic lipase activity; and increased levels of the enzyme PCSK9. In addition, there is an increase in the plasma levels of immature HDL particles and reduced cholesterol efflux. Studies from the past few years have markedly improved our understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of nephrotic syndrome-associated dyslipidaemia, and also heightened our awareness of the associated exacerbated risks of cardiovascular complications, progressive kidney disease and thromboembolism. Despite the absence of clear guidelines regarding treatment, various strategies are being increasingly utilized, including statins, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, nicotinic acid and ezetimibe, as well as lipid apheresis, which seem to also induce partial or complete clinical remission of nephrotic syndrome in a substantial percentage of patients. Future potential treatments will likely also include inhibition of PCSK9 using recently-developed anti-PCSK9 monoclonal antibodies and small inhibitory RNAs, as well as targeting newly identified molecular regulators of lipid metabolism that are dysregulated in nephrotic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, VLDL / metabolism
  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Dyslipidemias / metabolism
  • Ezetimibe / therapeutic use
  • Fibric Acids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lipase / metabolism
  • Lipoprotein Lipase / metabolism
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / complications
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / metabolism*
  • Niacin / therapeutic use
  • Proprotein Convertase 9 / metabolism
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, VLDL
  • Fibric Acids
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • LIPC protein, human
  • Lipoproteins
  • Triglycerides
  • lipoprotein cholesterol
  • Niacin
  • Cholesterol
  • Lipase
  • Lipoprotein Lipase
  • PCSK9 protein, human
  • Proprotein Convertase 9
  • Ezetimibe