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J Formos Med Assoc. 2015 Feb;114(2):102-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2014.11.002. Epub 2015 Jan 2.

Membranous nephropathy: a review on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Internal Medicine, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan. Electronic address:


In adults, membranous nephropathy (MN) is a major cause of nephrotic syndrome. However, the etiology of approximately 75% of MN cases is idiopathic. Secondary causes of MN are autoimmune diseases, infection, drugs, and malignancy. The pathogenesis of MN involves formation of immune complex in subepithelial sites, but the definite mechanism is still unknown. There are three hypotheses about the formation of immune complex, including preformed immune complex, in situ immune-complex formation, and autoantibody against podocyte membrane antigen. The formation of immune complex initiates complement activation, which subsequently leads to glomerular damage. Recently, the antiphospholipase A2 receptor antibody was found to be associated with idiopathic MN. This finding may be useful in the diagnosis and prognosis of MN. The current treatment includes best supportive care, which consists of the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers, lipid-lowering agents, and optimal control of blood pressure. Immunosuppressive agents should be used for patients who suffer from refractory proteinuria or complications associated with nephrotic syndrome. Existing evidence supports the use of a combination of steroid and alkylating agents. This article reviews the epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and the treatment of MN.


membranous nephropathy; pathogenesis; phospholipase A(2) receptor antibody; treatment

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