Alternate Names : IgA Nephropathy, Berger's Nephropathy
Berger's disease is generally believed to be an autoimmune disorder that results in kidney damage and may lead to kidney failure. An autoimmune disorder is a condition in which the person produces antibodies to his or her own tissues.
What is going on in the body?
The job of the kidneys is to make urine by filtering the blood. In Berger's disease, the filtering parts of the kidney, called the glomeruli, become damaged. The damage is due to deposits of proteins called antibodies. Antibodies are normally made by the immune system to fight infections. For some unknown reason, people with Berger's disease have either increased production or reduced clearance of IgA antibodies. The higher level of antibodies clogs up the filtering system of the kidney.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
Berger's disease is generally believed to be an autoimmune disorder in which IgA antibodies interfere with normal kidney function. Fifty percent of the people with Berger's disease have a gene known as HLA-DR4. This points to a genetic component to the disease.
New research findings suggest that autoimmune disorders may be triggered by a transfer of cells between the fetus and the mother during pregnancy. The study involved women with scleroderma, an autoimmune disorder involving the skin. These women have more fetal cells in their blood decades after a pregnancy than women who don't have scleroderma. While further research is needed to substantiate these findings, the study does offer an explanation for the much higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in women than in men.
Berger's disease usually occurs in people between the ages of 15 and 35. It is more common in Native Americans than in any other ethnic group. It is rare in black people and more common in Caucasians. Berger's disease is the leading cause of acute kidney disease in young people in the United States, Europe, and Japan. It is more common in Asia and Australia than in the U.S. Males are more often affected than women.