Nephrotic syndrome: pathophysiology and consequences

J Nephrol. 2023 Nov;36(8):2179-2190. doi: 10.1007/s40620-023-01697-7. Epub 2023 Jul 19.


In patients with kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome can lead to several complications including progressive kidney dysfunction. Proteinuria may lead to the formation of cellular or fibrous crescents with reciprocal development of rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis or focal glomerulosclerosis. Proteinuria may also cause overload and dysfunction of tubular epithelial cells, eventually resulting in tubular atrophy and interstitial fibrosis. Hypoalbuminemia is usually associated with increased risk of mortality and kidney dysfunction. Dyslipidemia may increase the risk of atherosclerotic complications, cause podocyte dysfunction and contribute to vascular thrombosis. Urinary loss of anticoagulants and overproduction of coagulation factors may facilitate a hypercoagulable state. Edema, hypogammaglobulinemia, loss of complement factors, and immunosuppressive therapy can favor infection. Treatment of these complications may reduce their impact on the severity of NS. Nephrotic syndrome is a kidney disorder that can worsen the quality of life and increase the risk of kidney disease progression.

Keywords: Chronic kidney dysfunction; Glomerular diseases; Nephrotic syndrome; Proteinuria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Glomerulosclerosis, Focal Segmental* / complications
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Kidney Diseases* / complications
  • Nephrotic Syndrome* / etiology
  • Proteinuria / complications
  • Quality of Life