An epidemic of chronic kidney disease (CKD) of unknown etiology, known as Mesoamerican Nephropathy (MeN), has been ongoing in Latin America for at least two decades. MeN primarily affects young adults without traditional CKD risk factors, and agricultural workers are disproportionately afflicted. We previously identified an acute phase of MeN that involves acute kidney injury (AKI) with tubulointerstitial nephritis and systemic inflammation. Because clinical disease progression in MeN is not yet understood, we sought to determine clinical predictors for progression from acute MeN to CKD. Through ongoing surveillance in Nicaragua, local physicians reported cases of acute MeN and CKD among agricultural workers. We analyzed clinical data collected during the acute MeN encounter to identify factors associated with progression to CKD. From February 2015 to May 2017, 586 agricultural workers (median age 27.8 years, 90% male) presented with acute MeN. The majority had a normal baseline creatinine, and leukocyturia (98.8%) and peripheral leukocytosis (80.7%) were common. Ultimately, 49 (8.4%) progressed to CKD, the majority of those within 6 months. CKD was attributed to MeN in all cases, and none had diabetes or hypertension. The strongest predictors of CKD progression were anemia and paresthesias at presentation, while leukocytosis was associated with renal recovery. Clinical markers of acute MeN may help clinicians identify patients at high risk for rapid progression to CKD, which in turn can inform early clinical management. Future studies should seek to determine the underlying etiology of disease and identify optimal interventions to interrupt the pathophysiologic process of MeN.
Keywords: Chronic Interstitial Nephritis in Agricultural Communities; Mesoamerican nephropathy; acute kidney injury; chronic kidney disease of nontraditional causes; chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology; tubulointerstitial nephritis.
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