minimal change disease

Last edited 04/2022 and last reviewed 04/2022

Minimal change nephropathy is responsible for 90% of the cases of nephrotic syndrome in children less than 5 years of age. It also occurs in adults - approx 20%.

The name is derived from the fact that the only detectable abnormality histologically is fusion and deformity of the foot processes under the electron microscope. Both light microscopy and immunofluorescence are unremarkable.

The condition is most frequent in children aged between two and four years. It has been suggested that MCD is more common in atopic patients, especially those posessing HLA-DR7. However, a direct link between allergic sensitisation and the onset of MCD is yet to be established.

MCD is steroid-responsive and, in general, does not lead to chronic renal failure.

With respect to interventions for MCD in adults a systematic review concluded (1):

  • concludes calcineurin inhibitors and mycophenolate probably make little or no difference to rate of remission, partial remission or relapse vs prednisolone, but calcineurin inhibitors may reduce adverse effects


  • Azukaitis K, Palmer SC, Strippoli GFM, Hodson EM. Interventions for minimal change disease in adults with nephrotic syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD001537. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001537.pub5