Polycystic Kidney Disease

What is polycystic kidney disease (PKD) ?

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic disorder that causes numerous cysts to grow in the kidneys. A kidney cyst is an abnormal sac filled with fluid. PKD cysts can greatly enlarge the kidneys while replacing much of their normal structure, resulting in chronic kidney disease (CKD), which causes reduced kidney function over time. CKD may lead to kidney failure, described as end-stage kidney disease or ESRD when treated with a kidney transplant or blood-filtering treatments called dialysis. The two main types of PKD are autosomal dominant PKD and autosomal recessive PKD.

PKD cysts are different from the usually harmless “simple” cysts that often form in the kidneys later in life. PKD cysts are more numerous and cause complications, such as high blood pressure, cysts in the liver, and problems with blood vessels in the brain and heart

What causes polycystic kidney disease ?

A gene mutation, or defect, causes polycystic kidney disease. Genes provide instructions for making proteins in the body. A gene mutation is a permanent change in the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence that makes up a gene. In most cases of PKD, a person inherits the gene mutation, meaning a parent passes it on in his or her genes. In the remaining cases, the gene mutation develops spontaneously. In spontaneous cases, neither parent carries a copy of the mutated gene.

Researchers have found three different gene mutations associated with PKD. Two of the genes are associated with autosomal dominant PKD. The third gene is associated with autosomal recessive PKD. Gene mutations that cause PKD affect proteins that play a role in kidney development.

Genetic Disorders

Each cell contains thousands of genes that provide the instructions for making proteins for growth and repair of the body. If a gene has a mutation, the protein made by that gene may not function properly, which sometimes creates a genetic disorder. Not all gene mutations cause a disorder

People inherit two copies of most genes; one copy from each parent. A genetic disorder occurs when one or both parents pass a mutated gene to a child at conception. A genetic disorder can also occur through a spontaneous gene mutation, meaning neither parent carries a copy of the mutated gene. Once a spontaneous gene mutation has occurred, a person can pass it to his or her children.

What is autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease ?

Autosomal dominant PKD is the most common form of PKD and the most common inherited disorder of the kidneys. The term autosomal dominant means a child can get the disorder by inheriting the gene mutation from only one parent. Each child of a parent with an autosomal dominant mutation has a 50 percent chance of inheriting the mutated gene. About 10 percent of autosomal dominant PKD cases occur spontaneously

The following chart shows the chance of inheriting an autosomal dominant gene mutation:

Health care providers identify most cases of autosomal dominant PKD between the ages of 30 and 50.4 For this reason, health care providers often call autosomal dominant PKD “adult PKD.” However, the onset of kidney damage and how quickly the disorder progresses varies. In some cases, cysts may form earlier in life and grow quickly, causing symptoms in childhood.

The cysts grow out of nephrons, the tiny filtering units inside the kidneys. The cysts eventually separate from the nephrons and continue to enlarge. The kidneys enlarge along with the cysts—which can number in the thousands—while roughly retaining their kidney shape. In fully developed autosomal dominant PKD, a cyst-filled kidney can weigh as much as 20 to 30 pounds.


Dr Ajay Goyal is an expert in the field of Nephrology and Renal Transplant medicine. He is specialist in management of diseases related to kidneys. He has 16 years of Clinical Experience behind him



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