Kidney health is vital to overall well-being, yet various factors, including the adverse effects of certain medications, often compromise it.

This article provides an in-depth review of drug-induced kidney diseases, focusing on glomerular disorders such as minimal change diseases (MCD), focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), and membranous nephropathies (MN).

These conditions, stemming from medication side effects, are significant contributors to acute kidney injuries and chronic kidney diseases.

The Glomerular Filtration Barrier and its Role

The kidney’s glomerular filtration barrier, primarily composed of podocytes, plays a crucial role in renal function.

These podocytes form foot processes that are tightly connected, directly contacting the basal membrane and surrounding capillaries. This complex structure is critical in retaining large proteins, ensuring efficient kidney filtration.

Clinical Features of Glomerular Diseases

The hallmark of glomerular diseases like MCD, FSGS, and MN is the loss of protein retention capability by the filtration barrier.

This malfunction leads to massive proteinuria and the subsequent development of nephrotic syndrome, characterized by high protein levels in urine and low protein levels in the blood.

Drug-Induced Glomerular Diseases

Certain medications have been historically linked to the onset of these glomerular diseases:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Commonly used for pain and inflammation, NSAIDs are known to be associated with glomerular diseases.
  • D-Penicillamine & Tiopronin: Used in metal chelation therapy, these drugs have shown links to glomerular diseases.
  • Trace Elements and Bisphosphonates: These compounds, found in various treatments, are also implicated.
  • Interferons: Utilized in treating numerous conditions, interferons can trigger glomerular disorders.

The Impact of New Anti-Cancer Agents

The last decade has seen the emergence of innovative anti-cancer agents, such as tyrosine kinase and immune checkpoint inhibitors. While these drugs mark significant advancements in cancer therapy, their renal adverse effects have brought to light new aspects of drug-induced glomerular diseases.

Understanding these side effects is crucial for safely administering these potent medications.

Moving Forward: Enhanced Understanding and Patient Care

Moving Forward - Enhanced Understanding and Patient Care - Safe Therapeutics

The evolving landscape of drug-induced kidney diseases necessitates a nuanced understanding from both physiological and pharmacological perspectives.

Healthcare providers must be vigilant in recognizing potential renal adverse effects, especially in treatments involving known high-risk drugs.


Drug-induced kidney diseases, particularly glomerular disorders like MCD, FSGS, and MN, represent a crucial area of concern in medicine. With the advent of new pharmaceuticals, especially in oncology, the need for heightened awareness and understanding of these renal side effects has never been more critical.

Patients and healthcare professionals must closely monitor kidney health, especially in treatments involving high-risk medications, to ensure the best outcomes and maintain renal health.