Evaluation and management of steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome

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Purpose of review

Idiopathic nephrotic syndrome in children is commonly associated with minimal change disease and response to steroid therapy. Steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome is often characterized by persistent proteinuria and progression to chronic kidney disease. Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis is the leading cause of steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome in childhood. There is no uniformed consensus as to the treatment of steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome. Advances in the pathogenesis, genetics and biomarkers or surrogate markers may be useful for the diagnosis and identification of patients with steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome, severity of disease, progression and response to therapy.

Recent findings

This review is intended to describe some of the recent changes in the epidemiology of steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome, in particular focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, its pathogenesis and alternative therapies.


Recent studies in both children and adults have shown an increase in the incidence of focal segmental sclerosis as a cause of steroid-unresponsive nephrotic syndrome. Advances in the pathogenesis and noninvasive methods of diagnosis may allow for the identification of steroid-responsive patients.

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