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What is the difference between IgA nephropathy and Henoch-Schönlein purpura nephritis?

Henoch-Schönlein purpura nephritis (HSPN) and IgA nephropathy (IgAN) are considered to be related diseases since both can be encountered consecutively in the same patient, they have been described in twins, and bear identical pathological and biological abnormalities. Apart from the presence of extrarenal clinical signs found only in HSPN, other differences are noticed between the two diseases. The peak age ranges between 15 and 30 years for a diagnosis of IgAN, whereas HSPN is mainly seen in childhood. Nephritic and/or nephrotic syndromes are more often seen at presentation in HSPN. In contrast to IgAN, HSPN has been described in association with hypersensitivity. Endocapillary and extracapillary inflammations as well as fibrin deposits in the glomerulus are more frequent in HSPN. No major biological differences have been found between the two illnesses, except for a larger size of circulating IgA-containing complexes (IgA-CC) and a greater incidence of increased plasma IgE levels in HSPN. As tissue infiltration by leukocytes is a major feature of HSPN vasculitis, a possible role of a more potent activation of the latter cells by IgA-CC and/or circulating chemokines in HSPN should be considered. Further studies are required to elucidate this possible mechanism as well as the role of hypersensitivity in HSPN.

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