Membranous nephropathy is a disease in which the small blood vessels in the kidney (glomeruli), which filter wastes from the blood, become inflamed and thickened. As a result, proteins leak from the damaged blood vessels into the urine (proteinuria). For many, the loss of these proteins eventually causes some signs and symptoms known as nephrotic syndrome.

In mild cases, the disease often gets better on its own, without any treatment (remission). As the level of protein leakage increases, so does the risk of long-lasting damage. In many people (as many as 40 percent), the disease ultimately leads to kidney failure. Although there's no cure, treatments are available to slow the progress of the disease.

Oct. 12, 2011