Volume 97, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Mesoamerican nephropathy (MeN), an epidemic of unexplained kidney disease in Central America, affects mostly young, healthy individuals. Its etiology is a mystery that requires urgent investigation. Largely described as a chronic kidney disease (CKD), no acute clinical scenario has been characterized. An understanding of the early disease process could elucidate an etiology and guide treatment and prevention efforts. We sought to document the earliest clinical signs in patients with suspected MeN in a high-risk population in Nicaragua. Physicians at a local hospital identified suspect cases and documented clinical/laboratory data, demographics, and medical histories. Over a 1-year period, physicians identified 255 mostly young (median 29 years), male (89.5%) patients with elevated creatinine or reduced creatinine clearance. Mean serum creatinine (2.0 ± 0.6 mg/dL) revealed a 2-fold increase from baseline, and half had stage 2 or 3 acute kidney injury. Leukocyturia (98.4%), leukocytosis (81.4%), and neutrophilia (86.2%) predominated. Nausea (59.4%), back pain (57.9%), fever (54.6%), vomiting (50.4%), headache (47.3%), and muscle weakness (45.0%) were common. A typical case of acute MeN presented with elevated (or increased ≥ 0.3 mg/dL or ≥ 1.5-fold from baseline) creatinine, no hypertension or diabetes, leukocyturia, and at least two of fever, nausea or vomiting, back pain, muscle weakness, headache, or leukocytosis and/or neutrophilia. Rapid progression (median 90 days) to CKD was recorded in 8.5% of patients. This evidence can serve as the basis of a sensitive and urgently needed case definition for disease surveillance of early-stage, acute MeN.


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  • Received : 30 Mar 2017
  • Accepted : 09 May 2017
  • Published online : 17 Jul 2017

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