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Clin Nephrol. 2011 Jan;75(1):34-48.

Fifty years of Balkan endemic nephropathy in Romania: some aspects of the endemic focus in the Mehedinti county.

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Nephrology Department, University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Timisoara, Romania.


Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN) is a chronic tubulointerstitial nephritis seen primarily in countries in the Balkan Peninsula. The disease, which was first described in Romania 50 years ago, often manifests as a form of chronic nephritis that is also associated with upper urothelial cancers (UUC). This review summarizes the observations and studies performed in Romania regarding this disease during the last 50 years with particular emphasis on Mehedinti county. The paper analyzes current data on the epidemiology of the disease in this area, specifically in relation to the observations made in dialysis centers in the same area. It also discusses the diagnostic criteria of patients with BEN stemming from collaborations between specialists working in other countries affected by the disease. Moreover, the paper analyzes the main etiological factors suspected to play a role in BEN: aristolochic acid (the disease has many similarities to aristolochic nephropathy caused by Chinese herbs), mycotoxins, toxic substances from pliocene lignite, genetic factors, and viruses. Studies performed by Romanian authors are presented briefly in comparison to studies performed by other authors. Finally, given that BEN is an important health problem in the region, the relationship between BEN and UUC is further analyzed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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