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Glomerulonephritis

Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidney. Glomerulonephritis is an inflammation of the glomeruli, and it may be acute or chronic and can lead to renal failure.

Acute glomerulonephritis (AGN) usually results from an abnormal immune reaction that develops one to three weeks following bacterial infection by beta-hemolytic Streptococcus. As a rule, the infection occurs in some other part of the body and does not affect the kidneys directly. Instead, bacterial antigens trigger an immune reaction. Antibodies against these antigens form insoluble immune complexes (see chapter 16, p. 667) that travel in the bloodstream to the kidneys. The antigen-antibody com plexes are deposited in and block the glomerular capillaries, which become further obstructed as the inflammatory response sends many white blood cells to the region. Those capillaries remaining open may become abnormally permeable, sending plasma proteins and red blood cells into the urine.

Most glomerulonephritis patients eventually regain normal kidney function; however, in severe cases, renal functions may fail completely, and without treatment, the person is likely to die within a week or so.

Chronic glomerulonephritis is a progressive disease in which increasing numbers of nephrons are slowly damaged until finally the kidneys are unable to function. This condition is usually associated with certain diseases other than strepto-coccal infections, and it also involves formation of antigen-antibody complexes that precipitate and accumulate in the glomeruli. The resulting inflammation is prolonged, and it is accompanied by fibrous tissue replacing glomerular membranes. As this happens, the functions of the nephrons are permanently lost, and eventually the kidneys fail. ■

Renal Glomerular Glomerulus

(a) tubules capsule

Renal Glomerular Glomerulus

(a) tubules capsule

Collecting ducts
Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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