The role of infectious agents in the aetiology and pathogenesis of childhood nephrotic syndrome in Africa.
Childhood nephrotic syndrome is common in Africa where infectious agents are prevalent. This paper reviews the possible aetiological role of infectious agents in childhood nephrotic syndrome in Africa. There is a strong association, possibly causal, between childhood nephrotic syndrome on the one hand and Plasmodium malariae, Schistosoma mansoni and hepatitis B antigens on the other. Beta-haemolytic streptococci are less strongly associated with nephrotic syndrome, and a few other organisms are suspect. The many ubiquitous infectious agents and the prevalence of multiple infections make it difficult to define the role of any single infectious agent or to determine the interaction between the various agents. Control or eradication of infectious diseases should lower the incidence of childhood nephrotic syndrome in Africa.