[Glomerulonephritis and vasculitis as causes of arterial hypertension]

Eicken, Sibylle; Gugger, Mathias; Marti, Hans-Peter (2012). [Glomerulonephritis and vasculitis as causes of arterial hypertension]. Therapeutische Umschau, 69(5), pp. 283-94. Bern: Huber 10.1024/0040-5930/a000287

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The various types of glomerulonephritis, including many forms of vasculitis, are responsible for about 15% of cases of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Arterial hypertension represents a frequent finding in patients suffering from glomerulonephritis or vasculitis and hypertension also serves as an indicator for these severe types of diseases. In addition, there are symptoms and signs like hematuria, proteinuria and renal failure. Especially, rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis (RPGN) constitutes a medical emergency and must not be missed by treating physicians. This disease can either occur limited to the kidneys or in the context of a systemic inflammatory disorder, like a vasculitis. If left untreated, RPGN can lead to a necrotizing destruction of glomeruli causing irreversible kidney damage within several months or even weeks. With respect to the immunologically caused vasculitis, there are - depending upon the severity and type of organ involved - many clinical warning signs to be recognized, such as arterial hypertension, hemoptysis, arthalgias, muscle pain, palpable purpura, hematuria, proteinuria and renal failure. In addition, constitutional signs, such as fever and loss of body weight may occur concurrently. Investigations of glomerulonephritis or vasculitis must contain a careful and complete examination of family history and medications used by the respective patient. Thereafter, a thorough clinical examination must follow, including skin, joints and measurement of arterial blood pressure. In addition, a spectrum of laboratory analyses is required in blood, such as full blood screen, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, CRP, creatinine, urea and glucose, and in urine, including urinalysis looking for hematuria, red cell casts and proteinuria. Importantly, proteinuria needs to be quantified by the utilization of a random urine sample. Proteinuria > 3g/d is diagnostic for a glomerular damage. These basic tests are usually followed by more specialized analyses, such as a screening for infections, including search for HIV, hepatitis B or C and various bacteria, and for systemic inflammatory diseases, including tests for antibodies, such as ANA, anti-dsDNA, ANCA, anti-GBM and anti-CCP. In cases of membranous nephropathy, antibodies against phospholipase-A2-receptor need to be looked for. Depending upon the given clinical circumstances and the type of disease, a reasonable tumor screening must be performed, especially in cases of membranous and minimal-change nephropathy. Finally, radiological examinations will complete the initial work-up. In most cases, at least an ultrasound of the kidney is mandatory. Thereafter, in most cases a renal biopsy is required to establish a firm diagnosis to define all treatment options and their chance of success. The elimination of a specific cause for a given glomerulonephritis or vasculitis, such as an infection, a malignancy or a drug-related side-effect, remains the key principle in the management of these diseases. ACE-inhibitors, angiotensin receptor-blockers, aldosteron antagonists and renin-inhibitors remain the mainstay in the therapy of arterial hypertension with proteinuria. Only in cases of persistently high proteinuria, ACE-inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers can be prescribed in combination. Certain types of glomerulonephritis and essentially all forms of vasculitis require some form of more specific anti-inflammatory therapy. Respective immunosuppressive drug regimens contain traditionally medications, such as glucocorticoids (e. g. prednisone), cyclosporine A, mycophenolate mofetil, cyclophosphamide, and azathioprine. With respect to more severe forms of glomerulonephritis and vasculitis, the antibody rituximab represents a new and less toxic alternative to cyclophosphamide. Finally, in certain special cases, like Goodpasture's syndrome or severe ANCA-positive vasculitis, a plasma exchange will be useful and even required.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Dermatology, Urology, Rheumatology, Nephrology, Osteoporosis (DURN) > Clinic of Nephrology and Hypertension
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology

UniBE Contributor:

Eicken, Sibylle and Gugger, Mathias








Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:33

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2015 21:21

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:



https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/12837 (FactScience: 219313)

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