Crescentic nephritis (RPGN)

Crescentic nephritis is also known as Rapidly Progressive GlomeruloNephritis, or RPGN. It is a severe and usually very acute type of kidney inflammation that can cause loss of kidney function within days to weeks.  We have more detailed info on glomerulonephritis on another page

As many causes of crescentic nephritis are treatable, it is important to make the diagnosis quickly so that kidney function can be saved.

What is crescentic nephritis?

Very severe inflammation inside the filtering units breaks the filtering membrane (the glomerular basement membrane, GBM), causing leakage of blood proteins into the urinary space. This makes the cells in the urinary space multiply to form the crescent.

The photos (above) and diagrams below them illustrate a normal glomerulus on the left, and one with a crescent on the right. The TUFT which contains the blood that is being filtered (the tiny blood vessels show up as white spaces in the normal glomerulus) has been crushed by the crescent on the right. US = urinary space in the normal glomerulus (shaded yellow).
What can cause crescentic nephritis?

Some important causes of severe crescentic nephritis are:

What is the treatment?

The initial treatment for most forms of crescentic nephritis is quite similar, although the details and follow-on treatment vary according to the cause. Immunosuppressive drugs are commonly used – these reduce the activity of your immune system.

Further information

Further information on glomerulonephritis is available on another page.



Acknowledgements:  The author of this page was Neil Turner. It was first published in October 2000. The date it was last modified is shown in the footer.