Inherited Kidney Diseases

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PatientPlus articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.

There are various kidney diseases, ranging from relatively common to rare disorders and from benign disorders to those with a high morbidity and mortality. Presentation may also vary - eg, renal mass, loin pain, failure to thrive, short stature, hypertension or renal dysfunction.

Advances in genetic techniques are providing novel insights into kidney diseases, especially diagnosis, classification, pathogenesis and therapy. Many congenital kidney diseases are due to single gene defects (eg, some cases of nephrotic syndrome resistant to steroids). It is also becoming clear that some adult-onset kidney diseases - which are far more common - are associated with risk alleles (genetic variants linked to an increased risk of developing certain diseases). An example is focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and chronic kidney disease in African-American patients.[1] 

Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract anatomy represent approximately 30% of all prenatally diagnosed malformations.[2] 

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  • The management will depend on the underlying disorder, degree of renal dysfunction and associated defects.
  • Genetic counselling is useful in patients and relatives where there is a defined autosomal dominant condition. However, where there is familial aggregation of congenital renal malformations with no defined genetic abnormality, genetic counselling may be of less benefit.[4] 
  • The role of prenatal interventions and postnatal therapies in cases of congenital kidney and urinary tract anomalies requires further research.[2] 

Further reading & references

  • Gigante M, Caridi G, Montemurno E, et al; TRPC6 mutations in children with steroid-resistant nephrotic syndrome and atypical phenotype. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2011 Jul;6(7):1626-34. doi: 10.2215/CJN.07830910.
  1. Hildebrandt F; Genetic kidney diseases. Lancet. 2010 Apr 10;375(9722):1287-95. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60236-X.
  2. Toka HR, Toka O, Hariri A, et al; Congenital anomalies of kidney and urinary tract. Semin Nephrol. 2010 Jul;30(4):374-86. doi: 10.1016/j.semnephrol.2010.06.004.
  3. Zhang D, Lu L, Yang HB, et al; Exome sequencing identifies compound heterozygous PKHD1 mutations as a cause of autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease. Chin Med J (Engl). 2012 Jul;125(14):2482-6.
  4. Weber S; Novel genetic aspects of congenital anomalies of kidney and urinary tract. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr;24(2):212-8. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e32834fdbd4.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Dr Colin Tidy
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
2326 (v22)
Last Checked:
Next Review:

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