Background There are limited data on secular trends in the incidence of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and frequencies of its risk factors or treatment modalities in patients with immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN). Methods This study divided 1255 patients with IgAN into three groups according to the timing of renal biopsy: 1979-89 (n = 232), 1990-99 (n = 574) and 2000-10 (n = 449). The age-adjusted incidence rates, incidence rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for ESRD were calculated by the person-year method and compared using Poisson regression analysis. Results A total of 63 patients (5.0%) developed ESRD. The age-adjusted incidence of ESRD decreased significantly over time, i.e. 11.5 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 5.4-24.6) in 1979-89, 6.5 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 1.0-25.2) in 1990-99 and 4.2 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 1.0-17.7) in 2000-10. The proportions of patients with preserved renal function and acute-stage inflammatory histologic changes (i.e. endocapillary hypercellularity and extracapillary proliferation) at the timing of biopsy increased over time, as did the rates of prescriptions of renin-angiotensin system blockers and corticosteroids (all P for trend <0.05). The effect of acute inflammatory histologic lesions on renal prognosis was drastically reduced over time. Conclusions These findings suggest that early diagnosis in the acute inflammatory phase and subsequent aggressive treatment may have contributed to the significant downward trend in the incidence of ESRD in patients with IgAN over three decades.
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