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Alternative Names Return to topHereditary nephritis; Hematuria - nephropathy - deafness; Hemorrhagic familial nephritis; Hereditary deafness and nephropathy
Definition Return to top
Alport syndrome is an inherited disorder that leads to kidney damage.
Causes Return to top
Alport syndrome is an inherited form of kidney inflammation (nephritis). It's caused by a mutation in a gene for a protein in connective tissue, called collagen.
The disorder is uncommon, and most often affects males. Women can transmit the gene for the disorder to their children, even if they have no symptoms.
Risk factors include:
Symptoms Return to top
The disorder damages the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, called glomeruli, that filter wastes.
At first, there are no symptoms. Then the progressive destruction of the glomeruli leads to blood in the urine and decreases the effectiveness of the kidney's filtering system. There is a progressive loss of kidney function and a build-up of fluids and wastes in the body.
In women, the disorder is usually mild, with minimal or no symptoms. In men, the symptoms are more severe and get worse faster.
The condition can progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD) at an early age (between adolescence and age 40).
Note: There may be no symptoms in some cases. Symptoms of chronic kidney failure or heart failure may be present or may develop.
Exams and Tests Return to top
The following tests may be done:
Treatment Return to top
The goals of treatment include monitoring and controlling progression of the disease and treating the symptoms. Most important is to strictly control high blood pressure.
Treatment of chronic renal failure will become necessary. This may include dietary modifications, fluid restriction, and other treatments. Ultimately, chronic renal failure progresses to end-stage renal disease, requiring dialysis or transplantation.
Surgical repair of cataracts (cataract extraction), or repair of the anterior lenticonus in the eye is possible.
Loss of hearing is likely to be permanent. Counseling and education to increase coping skills can be helpful. Learning new skills such as lip reading or sign language may be of some benefit. Hearing aids are helpful. Young men with Alport syndrome should use hearing protection in noisy environments.
Genetic counseling may be recommended because of the inherited pattern of the disorder.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Women usually have a normal life span with no signs of the disease except for blood in the urine. Rarely, women will have high blood pressure, swelling, and nerve deafness as a complication of pregnancy.
In men, deafness, visual difficulties, and kidney failure are likely by age 50.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if your symptoms suggest Alport syndrome, or if you have a family history of Alport syndrome and you are planning to have children.
Call your health care provider if your urine output decreases or stops. This may be a symptom of chronic kidney failure.
Prevention Return to top
This uncommon disorder is inherited. Awareness of risk factors, such as a family history of the disorder, may allow the condition to be detected early.
References Return to topBehrman RE, Kliegman RM, Jenson HB. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 17th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2003. Update Date: 11/12/2007 Updated by: Charles Silberberg, D.O., Private Practice specializing in Nephrology, Affiliated with NY Medical College, Division of Nephrology, Valhalla, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.